Ethan Kerfoot loves music, plays the saxophone and is learning guitar and drums. He is also bullied at school everyday.

Ethan Kerfoot loves music, plays the saxophone and is learning guitar and drums. He is also bullied at school everyday.

“I thought, enough is enough”: B.C. teen takes on bullies through social media

‘I thought, enough is enough. I wanted to try something to stop it.’

It’s not an uncommon story – a young person, driven beyond endurance by harassment, takes his or her own life.

Sometimes one of the last things that a child does is a post to social media, to explain the pain.

Ethan Kerfoot is a 16-year-old, Grade 11 student at Princeton Secondary School. He used Facebook for a different purpose last week when he publicly shared his own experience with bullies.

He wrote: “Bullying has been getting really bad in B.C., and sadly I experience it every day. Speaking from experience it doesn’t feel good, it sometimes makes you question why or how people can be so mean. If you bully and you’re reading this, please find it in your heart to make friends instead of enemies. If you are bullied just know that you are not alone and keep pushing through.”

Kerfoot made the post to a community forum, Princeton and Area Issues, which has more than 4,000 members.

In an interview with Black Press, Kerfoot said he spoke for himself, and other students at PSS he says are being bullied.

Related: Zero-tolerance policies aimed at stopping bullying not working, say experts

“I thought, enough is enough. I wanted to try something to stop it.”

He wants to bring awareness to the issue and force a resolution. Following his post, a meeting of school officials and RCMP were organized at PSS.

“There was a meeting to get some feedback around school culture and climate. It was facilitated by an outside individual who used to be a high school principal,” said vice-superintendent Jameel Aziz.

“I am told it was well attended and went very positively. Students and staff will also be engaged at another time, I believe.”

School Principal Kevin Leach did not respond to a request from Black Press for an interview.

Kerfoot is five feet tall. He enjoys music, plays the saxophone, and is learning guitar and the drums. He has a small circle of trusted friends.

Five years ago he moved to Princeton and enrolled in Vermilion Forks Elementary School – that’s when the trouble started.

He alleges he was beaten three times by another student, so graduating from VFE was a relief.

“And then when I got to high school I realized that was so much worse. Something happens every day. Sometimes I feel sick when I walk into the school,” he said.

Related: RCMP respond to an increase in bullying at Princeton high school

“Bullying to me is having verbal abuse, physical abuse and mental abuse. It’s punching and kicking and name-calling, manipulating, stealing your things and then hiding them from you and telling you to kill yourself.”

He said he considered suicide.

“It just got to the point where I wanted to just die.”

Kerfoot posted those feelings to his own Facebook Page. He wrote he was “ready.”

When asked why he did not commit suicide he said: “My mom. I couldn’t do that to my mom.”

Kerfoot’s developed some strategies to deal with his bullies.

“I do a lot of walking away but sometimes that doesn’t work because they just follow you.”

Sometimes he is passive.

“If you agree with them they have nothing to work with.”

Kerfoot claimed he was physically assaulted in a school hallway on Friday.

“I was slammed into a door, like picked up and thrown into the door and then slammed on the ground.”

Speaking to teachers and staff doesn’t solve the problem, he said.

“It usually ends up with the principal saying ‘we will look into it’.”

And he has little regard for anti-bullying messaging and promotion.

“Pink Shirt Day doesn’t work because I got bullied on Pink Shirt Day.”

Kerfoot’s mother Melanie Krenn lives in Vernon and grew up in Princeton, attending the same schools as her son.

“It’s horrible. You just want to run into the school, but you can’t. You have to sit back.”

However, Krenn has spoken with school administrators, sent messages to the district staff and also complained to the RCMP.

On one occasion she said she was told by district staff to go to the police and was told by a police officer to go to the school district.

“There has been a whole lot of talk but there needs to be action.”

Krenn and her son agree the solution lies in charging bullies and holding them accountable.

Kerfoot asked: “If some kid comes up to me and punches me in the head for no reason, wouldn’t that be assault?”

The reaction to Kerfoot’s original social media comment was overwhelming, he said.

“I didn’t expect so many people to respond to the post. There were support and love and I needed that.”

Krenn was not aware her teenager was going to make the issue public.

“I am so proud of him. He is so strong. I always tell Ethan that you have to be the change you want to see in the world.”

Aziz said he was unable to comment on a specific situation but all reports of bullying are investigated.

“As incidents are often complex, the responses can have many layers, both short term and long term. Ultimately, if a parent or family is unsatisfied with the response of the school, they can reach out to school district staff for assistance.”

If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

Other resources include: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at Toll free: 1-833-456-4566. You can also text 45645 or visit the online chat service at crisisservicescanada.ca.

Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance abuse.

Just Posted

Motorcyclists in the hundreds depart from Duncan on a South Island ride in honour of the Kamloops 215. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Ride for the Kamloops 215 takes over Trans-Canada Highway

“My family was in residential schools for three generations. On the day… Continue reading

(The winning Lady of the Lake candidates demonstrate their talents during the annual Opportunity Night, Wednesday, June 8. Mary Batyi, left, does a Highland Dance routine, accompanied by a bagpiper; Jorden Matson, centre, shows people her artwork while telling the crowd what her inspirations are; Amber Bell tells people about competitive swimming, before providing a virtual demonstration.” (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, June 15, 2011)
Flashback: Water meters, ‘Porky’, and Lady of the Lake

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Not securing your load could cost you big

An object of any sort falling off of the vehicle in front of you is definitely a surprise

Jared Popma recently streamed a live concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. (Ashley Daniel Foot photo)
21-year-old jazz artist talks favourite tunes and joys of music theory

Jared Popma recently streamed a concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Vetch cover crop beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Vetch and crimson clover to the rescue of soil fertility

I add dry organic fertilizer as plants use up what is in the soil.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Most Read