Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I grew up in a small outport where fishing was the mainstay for most families.  The odor from rotting fish, bait or whatever was always around. Dad would throw his cold wet gloves at me and ask me what I smelled, it was the repugnant odor of rotten herring, but the right answer was money!

The story out of Twillingate that a teacher had sprayed a 10-year old with Febreze after his lunch of fried fish disgusts me. The mother told CBC News that "she made her son Christian a meal of fried capelin Thursday for lunch. When Christian went back to school, she said, the students started teasing and laughing at him. His teacher put him in the hall for a period — then sprayed him with Febreze."

There are a bunch of ways to look at this. The teacher missed a valuable teaching moment where she could have explained to the class that it was not fair to bully the child. Instead, she chose to single out the child and make a torturous situation even worse, by making him sit out in the hall for a period, followed by a dousing with a chemical designed to mask odors in fabric.

Some people are saying it is the mothers fault for sending him to school smelling like fish. Give me a frigging break. Odors on clothing is a common enough thing. I am sure there are kids in that class that came home from lunch smelling of garlic, stale smoke, french fry grease and hamburgers. That is okay, but fish, well that is a  horrible offensive odor. If the odor was overwhelming, or some kid in the class had a fish allergy,  the child in question's mother could have been called to collect him. If he was close enough to school to walk back and forth for lunch, he could have showered and changed his clothing and been back at his desk in jig time.

I have some friends that work in slaughterhouses and one of them told me that he keeps a bottle Febreze in his truck to kill the stench before he goes home. That of course is his choice. No one asked the boy's mother if it was alright to apply a chemical.

However, if it was my child, I would have reacted angrily as well. The issue of contributing to the teasing of the boy is as serious as spraying him with a chemical. The teacher might as well have put a dunce hat on the poor kid and stuck him in the corner. Just imagine for a moment what impact this event would have on any child!

The teacher, the principal and the board need to rethink there approach to this issue, and offer the child an apology. As well, the RCMP should be asked to conduct a anti-bulling lecture at the school, with the teacher in question sitting with the children.

I can only suspect that the Febrez was applied with the best of intentions. A spokesperson for the Canadian Safe Schools Network, president Stu Auty, says the teacher probably meant no harm and was trying to help the situation by eliminating the source of the teasing. No doubt that was the situation.

Another issue that has not been raised is the teachers alleged reaction to the mother. I have a lot of friends that are teachers in rural Newfoundland. One of the toughest things they face as members of the community is that parents feel it is okay to call them at home. Can you imagine getting a call from an irate parent, at home?  The parent should have dealt with the principal and the board. What gives any parent the right to hassle a teacher after hours and outside the workplace?

All for all, I have no doubt the teacher meant no harm, but an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of the cure.

We all make mistakes and learn


Anonymous said...


Teacher is mow on leave?

Anonymous said...

Did the kid give consent to be sprayed with Febreze? So many unanswered questions? School board needs to offer clarification on facts.

Wm. Murphy said...

Peter...you are off base

You try telling a class of 10 year olds not to laugh and tease their classmate when he brings in fried capelin for lunch. For that matter I dare you to bring in a feed of capelin tomorrow for lunch and see if the adults in your work won't pass comment. In this case the mother should be drowned in Febreze. Putting your child through this is just wrong.

Can you imagine if the boy's mother sent the child in wearing all pink? What do think will happen? You can "explain" bullying to grade 5 class all you want but onus has to placed on the parents and how they socialize their children into society. Should the child eat fried capelin or be able to wear what he wants?....absoultely! Will it teach 10 year olds to not pass comments and prohibit the laughing and teasing...absolutely not.

If you feel that strong I dare for you to send your child to school with a feed of capelin dressed in pink or with bangles in his hair tomorrow! When your child gets bullied for this I will be the first to say that the parent was a moron for setting up their child for ridicule and teasing.
In this case the mother is a moron

Peter L. Whittle said...


The bottom line is that kids will tease one another about everything from how they dress, the length of their hair, freckles to their smell.

I think the teacher handled this situation in a very unprofessional way as did the administration. If a teacher sprayed a chemical on my kid, I would lawyer up so quick that they would not know what hit them.

As I said there was a bunch of ways to handle this, send the kid up to the office and call the mother to come down and take him home where he could have changed being the first thing that comes to my mind.

I see a bunch of issues here, the least of which is kids tormenting each other. The spraying of chemical on a child, the time in the hall alone, the refusal to apologize, dismissal of complaints by the principal who it turns out is the teachers brother.

Now that this has become a national issue the apologies are flowing.

A little common sense in the approach would have made a huge difference.

As for pink, a few years ago my middle kid worse a pink and blue stripped shirt to school and he was teased relentlessly. He now wears a pink t-shirt or other pink shirts to school all the time because he has the right to wear what ever the hell he wants as an individual. Those that tease are wrong. I believe in standing up to bullies, not condoning that behavior because it is a natural thing.

I can tell you this, I volunteer in schools and with school age children. The smell of old stale smoke can sometimes me gag, how in the name of god is the smell of fish from cooking any worse?

The mother is not a moron. For fuck sake boy. I cooked fish for supper last night, when i went home for lunch the smell was still in the house, I never noticed last night at all, but I did today. I am sure she never noticed a thing. If she had cooked hamburgers he would have smelled like that or french fry grease. The issue was and is kids teasing a kid that has been the subject of bullying before.

Blaming the mother and the kid, I thought you were a better man

Anonymous said...

Ignoring the problem, defending your bully child makes you an accomplice to the bullying.

Anonymous said...

The kid didn't bring in fried capelin for lunch. He ate it at home.

Wm. Murphy said...

Peter I stand by the comment that the mother is a moron...to have her son bring fried capelin to school invites this shit. Sure the bullying and teasing is wrong but I don't care how much intervention and education you provide... the fact of the matter is that you have 10 year olds interacting with 10 year olds. When a kid opens his lunch and a waft of fried capelin fills the room do you expect a 10 year old to not say anything? Do you expect the kids to turn away and not pass comment or embelish the situation. They are 10 and that's what they do. It's like saying that a 10 year old shouldn't pass comment when they smell a fart in the room. This is too silly for words...the mother is a moron for setting up the situation in the first place.
If the mother had some common sense then there would be no need for the correct intervention you suggested.

I am not talking about the residual smell of cooked supper or stale smoke...I am talking about a mother setting the stage for ridicule and humilation for her son.
The mother is a moron

Anonymous said...


Again, listen to the story. Pay attention. The kid DID NOT bring in fried capelin for lunch. He ate it at home.