The Boy Who Was Bullied

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

John Peters Humphrey—A Canadian Defender of Human Rights

On Monday, February 25th, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) and École Riverview School of Winnipeg collaborated for a presentation by Anne Scott, the author of the book The Boy Who Was Bullied. It is the story of John Peters Humphrey who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

John Humphrey grew up in Hampton, New Brunswick, in the early 1900s. When he was six years old, he lost his arm and became the target of bullies as a result. John’s determination and resilience helped him through this difficult time and this helped him deal with the death of both his parents at a young age. He went on to experience many adventures and a brilliant career. John was Dean of Law at McGill University and also worked as Director of the Human Rights Division at the United Nations, in New York. His story can be an inspiration to all young Canadians. 

In Ms. Scott’s presentation to the students, she talked about John Humphrey’s adventures, and challenges, bullying, empathy, resilience, and human rights. A retired elementary music teacher, she involved the students by using music and movement to help them stand in the shoes of someone with a disability who experienced the indignities of being bullied.


Ms Scott and the classroom

 Ms. Scott involves the students by using music and movement.


Following the presentation, one student commented, “When John Humphrey grew up he made human rights stand out.  He was like the upstander.”  Eleni W.  (grade 3)

When asked what she learned from Anne Scott’s presentation another student said, “An upstander is a good person who stands up for the person being bullied.”  Aliyas D.  (grade 4).


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and John Peters Humphrey will be featured in one of the galleries of the CMHR. Anne Scott’s book, aimed at grades three to seven, engages students with the lofty goals of the Declaration by telling the personal story of John Peters Humphrey. 


Ms Scott reading

Ms. Scott talking about John Peters Humphrey.
John Peters Humphrey, defender of universal human rights, died in 1995. His legacy to the world, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, still continues to inspire individuals and nations.


Bullying happens every day in schools, on the streets, in malls, on the Internet. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social—and it can be deadly. Children can learn to be part of the solution.  At the CMHR, children will discover how ordinary Canadians are working to uphold human rights. One of the galleries will explore universal themes of bullying and respect for others.  Everyone has the right to feel safe. Preventing bullying is one way to foster respect for others and to promote human rights.

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