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Editorial: Desperate times

The furor over teen bullying in Squamish ignited once again last week as a 14-year-old boy ended up in hospital with the usual suspects reportedly involved.

The furor over teen bullying in Squamish ignited once again last week as a 14-year-old boy ended up in hospital with the usual suspects reportedly involved.

To the school district's credit, its representative, director of instruction Rose Mackenzie, is saying the school has some learning to do.

But some are saying they've heard this all before and progress has not been made. "What will it take?" say desperate parents.

It's clear the district does not have a handle on teen bullying at Don Ross. There have been numerous accounts of observers saying the kids perpetrating the violence (few as they may be) are "running the school."

The problems may lie in the psychology of some factions in the school -at best, teen violence is not taken seriously, which was evident when the video of the boys fighting was deleted. At worst, people believe those who get beat up attract it.

They call the kids "lippy," essentially saying they were asking for it - and the most disturbing part is these are adults talking.

Those sorts of comments may partially explain why these increasingly jarring situations keep coming up.

There are also more and more people pressuring the district to address the problems, as dozens of comments on The Chief's online story will attest.

The school's inability to protect victimized kids makes people angry on many different levels.

One common theme is that, although all kids involved in violence must account for their role in the chaos, undue attention is being paid to the victims and not nearly enough to the accused.

MacKenzie said whether the victims were coerced into fighting or not, they "felt" that way and so would be taught the skills to not find themselves in that situation in the future.

What a wonderful thought. Just imagine: with enough skills we can all learn to never be mugged, assaulted, bullied or otherwise victimized ever again.

Unfortunately that just doesn't ring true.

The fact of life is people sometimes find themselves overpowered by someone with bad intentions and will need help.

The answer is go to the authorities - hopefully before it's too late. And this is exactly what Austin Aldridge did last week, but it didn't work.

And when he fought back, he was suspended since, as MacKenzie explained, when he asked for help earlier in the week, he was told "OK, don't fight," but he did anyway.

What lesson is that supposed to teach him? What is this 14-year-old boy going to take away from this? That he's not worth protecting? That he's to blame for his own victimization? Whatever it is, you can be sure it's not healthy.

The school administration did not think this through before, during or after the incident that - it cannot be stated strongly enough - ended with a boy in hospital.

It's quite sad that this well-intentioned new vice-principal from Pemberton made such egregious errors in judgment so early in her new position, and we can understand that the district would want to protect her from the more vicious accusations, but this latest situation shows that Don Ross is in dire need of cleaning up its act.

- Sylvie Paillard

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