News / Toronto

Teen charged in Pickering school stabbing was bullied: educational assistant

Tricia Goodchild worked closely with the 14-year old girl, along with other students, sometimes spending hours each day by her side at the Pickering school.

Students and media look on outside Dunbarton High School following a stabbing incident at the school in Pickering, Ont., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016.

The Canadian Press

Students and media look on outside Dunbarton High School following a stabbing incident at the school in Pickering, Ont., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016.

The 14-year-old girl charged in the stabbing spree at Dunbarton High School was verbally bullied, says an educational assistant at the school.

Tricia Goodchild worked closely with the girl, along with other students, sometimes spending hours each day by her side at the Pickering school.

“Bullying is a huge thing that she had to deal with and I think people should know that was something that could have triggered her,” she said.

The girl, whose identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is facing 15 charges, including six counts of assault causing bodily harm, seven counts of assault with a weapon, and possession of dangerous weapons.

Goodchild, who was on the campus but not in the same building when the attack happened, said she got to know the girl well while working with her. The stabbing spree that left five students and two staff members injured seems out of character, she said.

“I felt that she was so sad and so depressed, I thought that, if anything, she would try to hurt herself. I never thought she would try to hurt other kids.”

Goodchild said the girl struggles with mental health difficulties, but described her as a “normal little girl.”

“She would never go out of her way to cause trouble or say anything bad. She was always polite and respectful,” she added.

According to Goodchild, the bullying continued even after it was reported.

“All I have stuck in my mind is her saying, ‘No one believes me,’ ” she said. “I told her, ‘I believe you.’”

The educational assistant said she hasn’t been able to sleep for the past few days because of what happened and hopes the information she has can help police or the girl’s lawyer understand what happened and why.

“All I want to do is hug her and tell her I love her,” she said.

As for anti-bullying efforts at Dunbarton and other Ontario high schools, Goodchild says they failed the girl and they could fail others too.

“Is it really a safe school? I don’t think so,” she said. “This happened; it was a matter of time. There are probably more kids who are also struggling with bullying and other issues.”