Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says news of an alleged hazing incident outside the community of Lanigan is alarming.
RCMP have charged 11 teenagers – nine of them too young to be identified – with 39 charges including assault, assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.
“You know, it’s very disturbing, especially in light of just the amount of public discussion and I hope increased public awareness around some of the bullying issues, some of the issues that kids are already facing in school,” Wall said Tuesday in Saskatoon.
“There’s investigations underway and so I’m careful not to comment beyond that, but it’s just a real disappointment to hear of these kinds of things happening.”
The charges came after a bush party on Sept. 6 where some Grade 9 and 10 students were hit with a goalie stick. The alleged victims had severe bruising and one boy had muscle damage to his leg and buttocks.
Police say they are aware of five alleged victims, but believe there are more teens who haven’t come forward.
Lanigan Central High School and the Horizon School Division had sent a letter to parents Sept. 5 warning them about hazing before the party.
The letter said hazing is a form of abuse and “Do you know that hitting someone with a paddle is assault?”
The Sept. 5 letter also urged parents to research Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd.
Rehtaeh’s family has said she was tormented after a digital photograph of her allegedly being sexually assaulted in November, 2011, was passed around her Nova Scotia school. Rehtaeh hanged herself in April. She was 17.
Amanda, a B.C. girl who was tormented online after being sexually exploited, committed suicide last year after posting a heartbreaking video about her treatment at the hands of relentless bullies. She was 15.
Wall, a father of three, says he won’t give parents advice, but suggested “we all need to do a better job with our kids.”
“I think it’s improving a little bit. I think there are more kitchen table discussions happening now than there were when I grew up – I certainly hope that’s the case,” he said.
“Part of our anti-bullying initiative is to help foster that kind of discussion because that’s where it can start, it can start in the home.”
The Premier has tasked Saskatoon MLA Jennifer Campeau with reporting this fall on anti-bullying strategies.