BRANTFORD, Ont. - Jake Gamble has been at home suffering from a severe concussion for over two months.
But the 10-year-old boy’s head injury didn’t occur on a sports field or a hockey rink. He was hurt on the playground at Notre Dame Catholic School by an alleged bully, another Grade 5 student.
“He’s just not the same boy,” Joanne Gamble said recently, fighting back tears. “He’s lost his smile.”
She said her son, who is small for his age, was out for recess on Feb. 8 and was helping a girl up off the ground when someone charged into him, sending him flying through the air.
Jake landed hard, smashed the back of his head on the concrete and lost consciousness.
“He later told me, ‘I thought I was going to die, mom,’” Joanne said.
Jake said he didn’t see the boy charge him.
“Everything went black,” he said.
Moments later he came to and was choking on his vomit.
“My legs and arms felt weird and I had a headache,” Jake said.
He then heard laughter and realized it was one of the bigger kids in his class, a boy he claims had bullied him for several years.
Joanne claims the same boy also gave Jake a less serious concussion in Grade 3. Mid-way through Grade 4 her son was being bullied so bad by that boy and several others that he changed schools.
“He couldn’t take it any more,” Joanne said.
But Jake missed his friends, so he returned to Notre Dame this year, she said.
Sadly, Joanne claims she was in the principal’s office just two weeks before her son was hurt and was told the bullies would be dealt with.
But as far as she knows nothing happened.
“It’s horrible,” Jake said of what he has endured. “Nobody should have to go through this.”
He now has daily headaches, dizziness, nausea and he’s tired all the time. He’s been referred to the brain injury clinic at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton.
Joanne is upset at how the school has handled the situation.
“They’ve been calling it an accident since day one, but I’ve been telling them it wasn’t,” she said.
As far as Joanne knows, the boy who hurt her son was suspended for two days, “after I threatened to go to the police.”
She eventually did report the incident to Brantford police.
According to their report, the boy admitted he was upset because it was a “pavement only recess” and he took out his frustration on Jake.
Police weren’t able to charge the boy because he’s under 12, but they did get him to write a letter of apology to his victim.
The Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board would not comment on the case because of privacy issues.
“But bullying is not tolerated,” spokesperson Tracey Austin said. “Every complaint is taken seriously and investigated.”
A few weeks after Jake was hurt, his mom was banned from Notre Dame’s property and her daughter, 6, was forced to go to a new school.
That’s when she and her husband turned to Sandra Zisckind for help.
“I’m shocked and appalled,” the Toronto lawyer said.
“I want to find out why this happened,” Zisckind said. “And I want to know why the parents’ cries for help fell on deaf ears.”