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A very troubled young man

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Sometimes I get bizarre emails, sometimes they’re utterly weird, but few are as troubling as the one I received from a young man who included his name and address.

He wanted to tell me about his years in a particular Manitoba community and school, and you won’t be reading any names here.

Apparently his mother taught at the school he attended, and this young man wanted to tell me all about the reasons why his mother allegedly watched a boy having the living crap beaten out of him in the school, and did nothing.

He tells that story better than I do: "The principal was a drunk and bullying was endemic among the students. She once observed one student pummeling another; the student getting the beating looked at her for help; she looked away. That was not because of weakness on her part; it was because the student being beaten had for months been allowed by other teachers to bully others ‘because he’s compensating for his small size.’," said my correspondent.

Then he gets into his own alleged actions in the school. We’ll deal with two of them.

He talks about his justification for hurling the N-word at a student who may have been the school’s only black. That student had pulled down my correspondent’s shorts in gym class, with girls present. ".I do not apologize for it, I do not regret it; had I known a worse insult to use on him, I would have!"

And, skipping over some other stuff, we get to the time he beat up a girl in his class: "It was in a science class. I had been reading a book and had sat down in a chair . . . just as someone pulled it away. So, I landed flat on the floor on my backside, people laughing and smiling at me. When I got up, grabbed my chair and sat down, clutching my open book in front of me, I honestly do not think I was sane. All I could think of as I sat there was ‘somebody do something!

"Somebody did; a girl walking by either accidentally bumped the table or jokingly ticked the back of my book so that for a moment I couldn’t read it; not that I was. That was enough; I literally saw red, leapt up and started pummeling her. Other students had to pull me off her."At least, he says he feels ashamed about that last incident: "What I did wasn’t right, it wasn’t because of anything she did, it was just that I was furious and she was there."He says he’s hoping that this will get published in the local paper where he lived, complete with his name and address. Let’s hope it doesn’t run.

Look, I’m not going to play Dr. Phil here, that’s not only inappropriate but dangerous. But I’m hoping you’ll discuss all this with some mature person who’s reasonable and sensible, maybe your family doctor, and maybe someone can steer you to some help.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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