Thirteen year-old Briar MacLean tackled a knife-wielding bully who was attacking a classmate. Instead of praising MacLean's intervention, the Calgary school officials admonished him for playing hero. As the National Post reported:
Briar MacLean was sitting in class during a study period Tuesday, the teacher was on the other side of the room and, as Grade 7 bullies are wont to do, one kid started harassing another.The Sun News later updated:
“I was in between two desks and he was poking and prodding the guy,” Briar, 13, said at the kitchen table of his Calgary home Friday.
“He put him in a headlock, and I saw that.”
He added he didn’t see the knife, but “I heard the flick, and I heard them say there was a knife.”
I heard the flick, and I heard them say there was a knife
The rest was just instinct. Briar stepped up to defend his classmate, pushing the knife-wielding bully away.
The teacher took notice, the principal was summoned and Briar went about his day. It wasn’t until fourth period everything went haywire.
“I got called to the office and I wasn’t able to leave until the end of the day,” he said.
That’s when Leah O’Donnell, Briar’s mother, received a call from the vice-principal.
“They phoned me and said, ‘Briar was involved in an incident today,’” she said. “That he decided to ‘play hero’ and jump in.”
Ms. O’Donnell was politely informed the school did not “condone heroics,” she said. Instead, Briar should have found a teacher to handle the situation.
“I asked: ‘In the time it would have taken him to go get a teacher, could that kid’s throat have been slit?’ She said yes, but that’s beside the point. That we ‘don’t condone heroics in this school.’ ”
Instead of getting a pat on the back for his bravery, Briar was made to feel as if he had done something terribly wrong. The police were called, the teen filed a statement and his locker was searched.
The school and Calgary Board of Education didn't comment until Friday, in a letter to parents on the school's website.It would have been better had an adult been around to put a stop to the fight, but given the immediate possibility of a stabbing, MacLean's bravery should be admired not condemned.
"The student who reportedly intervened was asked to remain in the office to explain what happened but was in no way disciplined," school principal Michael Bester wrote.
"Two students were suspended as a result of their behaviour in this incident.
"It is not recommended that students intervene in incidents such as this to ensure their own safety. There was a teacher nearby who could have been asked to assist before the third student became involved."