Representatives of six schools and the administration of Campbell River school district 72 (SD72) sat down in on Sept 19, for the first District Parents Advisory Council (DPAC) meeting of the school year.
One focal point of the meeting with regard to bullying in schools. SD72 Secretary Jayme Johnson pointed out the escalating violence happening among youth in Campbell River.
Johnson’s son was a victim of a random assault at a skate park in late May. A video of the encounter was shared through social media. Fighting her emotions, Johnson described watching the video as the “worst 37 seconds of her life.”
“There was a large amount of violence over the summer among the youth within the community,” said Johnson. “It was brutal. (My son) couldn’t move all of May and missed the last month of school.”
Johnson said that she has had contact with the Campbell River RCMP over bringing in programs centred around tackling schoolyard bullying. Suggestions included resources from the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) who hold Parent Presentation workshops, which include ones on bullying. Also the question of bringing the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, which is put on in cooperation with the RCMP. D.A.R.E. hasn’t been presented in area schools since the start of COVID.
“I don’t know if parents know what questions to ask at this point,” said DPAC President Kari Moon.
SD72 administration and fellow DPAC members applauded Johnson for sharing her story. SD72 assistant superintendent Philip Cizmic said that he would look into a program called Safer Schools Together. It is a program sponsored by the province to provide mentorship for at risk youth.
Johnson feels the combination of the COVID pandemic and the era of smartphones has made children more concerned about hits on their profiles, and less on the safety of their peers.
“I think it’s cell phones,” said Johnson. “They’re all putting it on social media and it is ruining these kids lives. It’s a very serious topic.”
She feels however, the children who harmed her son not be condemned, but rather educated.
“There were 300 parents with pitchforks who were ready to lose it on this kid,” said Johnson. “But that isn’t the answer. There is some sort of training and education. People can help you with that.”