Serious action must be taken against staff of a Manitoba school who stood by while students were duped into chewing moose droppings, says a U.S. consultant on bullying.
"This incident is one of the worst I've seen. If everything I've seen in the news is correct. I would be disciplining teachers and thinking about transferring the principal," said Stuart Twemlow.
"If this is not dealt with in schools — and if you want schools to be better places to learn, a better climate for learning — you have to deal with this. It's the elephant in the room and it doesn't go away if you don't talk about it."
Twemlow is the founder of Back Off Bully and several other anti-bullying strategies for U.S. schools, and a consultant for the U.S. federal government and the FBI.
The principal, a teacher and a resource officer at Walter Whyte School in Grand Marais, Man., have been disciplined for their part in the moose-droppings incident, which occurred during a school-organized canoe trip on May 25.
The disciplinary decision was made by the board of trustees for the Lord Selkirk School Division on Tuesday. A superintendent from the Lord division, however, wouldn't reveal the nature of the action taken against the staff members.
Some parents want the principal transferred, but say that has not happened.
Told feces was chocolate
During the canoe trip, two Grade 8 teens were given the poop but told it was chocolate-covered almonds.
According to Karen Eyolfson, whose 13-year-old son was one of the students who consumed the droppings, it was a parent chaperone that offered the so-called almonds from a sandwich baggie. But the principal of the school, a resource officer and her son's teacher all watched it happen, Eyolfson said.
When her son ran off to wash out his mouth, a 13-year-old female classmate who didn't witness the incident was also tricked by the same adults into eating the droppings, Eyolfson said.
The girl got it stuck in her braces and was humiliated, said Eyolfson.
Twemlow described the so-called prank as a sick, sado-masochistic act.
"I think the triumphant laughing of adults with the little girl with stuff hanging out of her teeth and a boy who's washing out his mouth is pretty sick stuff, isn't it?"
He called it a classic case of adult bullying, which he said is far more common than most parents think.
"In our work with principals, we often find principals who know which teachers are bullies and don't put certain children who are vulnerable with those teachers," Twemlow said.