Fraser Sutherland, 15, in his Markham, ON home on Wednesday, June 27, 2012.
Credits: VERONICA HENRI/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO - Fraser Sutherland has learned he is not alone.
The bullied 15-year-old teen now has UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in his corner. He has Craig Wilson, the father of another bullied child who committed suicide rather than face his tormentor. He has Joe Wamback, victims' rights crusader .
And he has hundreds of supporters online who are bombarding the York Region Catholic District School Board with demands that they reconsider their heartless decision to let Fraser's expelled bully back into school in the fall.
Even if he is terrified.
As we wrote here Thursday, Fraser has suffered three concussions at the hands of a classmate who has continually harassed and beaten him over the last several years. The kid was finally expelled in January from St. Brother Andre High School after he was arrested for jumping Fraser at a Unionville skating rink. For the first time, Fraser could go to class without for the first time.
But that reprieve has turned out to be short-lived.
The school board called the family into a meeting this week and informed them that the bully is now a changed young man and will be allowed to return when school resumes in September. No debate. And if Fraser has a problem with that, well, he can go somewhere else.
How is that fair? "I shouldn't have to leave the school when I didn't do anything wrong," he told the Toronto Sun. "I believe the person that is doing the harm should leave."
Hundreds agree. Since telling his story here and on Sun News, he's been interviewed on several radio shows and has been inundated with messages to stay strong and fight the school's decision. "The reaction is amazing, so many supporters and I even have a group. I never thought this many cared about me. " says an overwhelmed Fraser. "Thank you so much for everything you have done to make this possible."
After reading Fraser's story, Sylvia Matthews set up the "Stand Up for Fraser Sutherland" group on Facebook. "I knew I had to do something, anything," Matthews explains. "I can't remember the last time I was this inspired to help someone and to give them support. I am sure it was not easy for Fraser and his dad to go public and I applaud them for doing it. Today we will call and email anyone and everyone to get the message across. Bullying will not be tolerated. Period."
The UFC champion posted a link to the story on his Facebook page: "I saw this and feel bad," St. Pierre said. "If you're the victim of bullying, here are some resources for you."
Also adding his support was the father of Mitchell Wilson, whose bullied 11-year-old child took his life last Labour Day. "How can the school want to do this - it's disgusting," says the horrified dad. "They're just throwing him under the bus. Let him know I'm in his corner. I'll stand behind him."
Because he doesn't want a repeat of what happened to his own child. That is the worst case scenario that haunts Fraser's father as well. His son has twice threatened to commit suicide over the bullying he's endured over these last few years.
"They're not looking at the red flags and warning signs," says Kirk Sutherland, who is consulting a lawyer next week. "We're going to have to make noise until they change their decision. It's common sense. All they have to do is have this kid go to another school so my kid will be safe. Fraser has every right to be at his own school and he has every right to be as safe as possible."
Like his son, he is overcome with gratitude that so many readers are on their side and have contacted the school board on their behalf. "I'm getting emails by the bucketful. There is a massive amount of individuals who are so kind and so considerate. That's what I've seen in the last few days. As bad as the situation is, we're not alone."