Teenager subjected to racist cyberbullying wants parents, schools to fight hate

·3 min read
The 15-year-old from Surrey was on a video chat call when anonymous boys joined the call and began yelling the N-word repeatedly. CBC News has agreed not to name the teen but she and her family have approved her appearing in photos.
The 15-year-old from Surrey was on a video chat call when anonymous boys joined the call and began yelling the N-word repeatedly. CBC News has agreed not to name the teen but she and her family have approved her appearing in photos.

(Shawn Foss/CBC - image credit)

A 15-year-old in Surrey is calling for parents and schools to do more to stamp out hatred after she and her friends were subjected to racial slurs during a cyberbullying incident.

The teenage girl was on the Houseparty video chat app with friends on Feb. 14 when several unknown boys joined their call and began yelling the N-word. They also told her to die by suicide and ridiculed her for including pronouns in her bio.

The teenager, who CBC News has agreed not to name but who has consented, along with her family, to the use of her photo, is Black.

"It was almost like we were ambushed," she said. "We were all just stunned."

The teenager recorded the incident and posted it to social media. CBC News is not sharing the video because of the ages of those involved and the offensive language heard throughout.

The teen says she has been subjected to racism her whole life and managed to keep her cool during the incident.
The teen says she has been subjected to racism her whole life and managed to keep her cool during the incident.

The teen says she has been subjected to racism her whole life and managed to keep her cool during the incident.

In the video, the Surrey teenager remained calm and tries to reason with the anonymous boys. She asked them if they understand the N-word's meaning.

She says she has been the target of racism her whole life and knew getting into a shouting match would not help.

"I didn't really have time to think with emotion. I never took it to heart because they didn't sound very educated," she said.

"I've learned to be compassionate. Not every household is the same. No one is born with hate."

But she says she wants accountability: not just accountability for the boys who hurled the offensive language at her and her friends, she said, but also for parents and schools.

She says both need to do better when it comes to instilling anti-racist attitudes in the next generation.

Police, school district respond

The Surrey RCMP says its officers investigated the incident, but no charges have been recommended.

The boys involved, according to a spokesperson, are 13-year-olds from Coquitlam and the RCMP in that city contacted them and their parents.

"It is our understanding that each of the young people ... were not previously known to police — were subject to consequences administered by their parents," Surrey RCMP said in an email.

"Each of the youths were very remorseful for their actions."

The Coquitlam School District says students from its schools were involved in the incident.

"The district takes such matters seriously. We are addressing this situation using a multidisciplinary approach and protocol, which includes RCMP and other community partners," wrote district associate director of communications and community relations Ken Hoff.

"The district is unable to provide specific details as they relate to students, but we are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all students.

"The school district may impose appropriate interventions and actions based on the impact to individuals at the school site or impact to the greater school community and develop intervention and safety plans with students and families."

'We have to educate our kids'

The Surrey teenager targeted by the racist language says schools and parents must be the ones to take the lead on preventing incidents like these.

She says she wants to see more cultural sensitivity taught in class. She wants to see schools take a firmer stance by taking these incidents seriously.

"It should be the same as if someone punched another person in the face," she said. "Because the hurting is equal."

And, she said, parents need to deliver an anti-racist upbringing to their kids.

"Some adults don't take into account they're raising the next generation," she said. "In order for [racism] to be gone we have to talk about this and we have to educate our kids."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.