Opinion: Squamish Youth fight site a wake-up call | BC

Opinion: Squamish Youth fight site a wake-up call

Not all the kids in town are alright, it seems.

Recently, there was a now-taken-down social media account featuring videos of Squamish teen boys brawling. No, not MMA fighting in a gym as part of an organized sport, but old fashioned, “Meet you behind location X at 3 p.m.” kind of fighting. 

(I am not identifying the account or anything more about what was on it because these are kids and there is no evidence those in the videos agreed to be broadcast.)

The Squamish RCMP are aware of the page, Sgt. Sascha Banks told The Chief, and they are looking into various aspects of it. The RCMP Squamish Outreach Team is working with local schools.

It is wise to report such sites to the RCMP, Banks said.

When I was a kid in the 1980s, this stuff happened too, though, of course, fights were never broadcast. Certain boys were always getting into donnybrooks.

And I especially remember one terrifying girl who would take on all comers in fights behind the school gym.

My husband Mykel, 56, who literally won’t kill a spider, says he instigated a fight with a boy when he was in Grade 2 or 3. The boy had kicked dirt on him.

My hubby left him with a bloody nose and was suspended. He never fought again, but remembers his Williams Lake peers, including two girls, having regular fistfights behind a local church.

A mom of four now-adult sons, I naively thought we had progressed past this, or at least that if it happened, it would not be celebrated on local social media.

Has the pandemic raised tensions among youth who no longer have many of the outlets they once did?

Perhaps, but at least some of the videos on the site seemed to be pre-pandemic.

Regardless of how familiar this is to so many of us adults, it should raise concerns for Squamish in 2021.

We know from our not-too-distant past that unchecked youth violence can lead some to dark places we don’t want them to go.

Of course, fighting like this doesn’t mean all these kids are doomed to be “bad.” As my husband noted, of his friends who were regular fighters, most turned out great.

These guys aren’t now men known for saying: ‘I will meet you behind the lumber yard,” he said with a laugh.

A 2014 study, Why Adolescents Fight: A Qualitative Study of Youth Perspectives on Fighting and Its Prevention, found that reasons for fighting among 13 to 17-year-olds include self-defense, to gain/maintain respect, or due to anger.

The study concluded that non-fighting teens use various strategies to avoid fighting, whereas fighters are aware of few alternatives.

“Conflicting parental messages about fighting may enhance the likelihood of fighting,” the study says.

It concludes that counselling “youth about the negative consequences of fighting, interventions that teach anger management and conflict resolution, promote adolescent self-efficacy for using non-violent strategies, and address parental attitudes about fighting may be effective in preventing fighting.”

I would add that for the teen looking to find status with fists, there are great gyms in town that can be a safer and fairer outlet for that.

While it is easy to just target parents or a teen’s home life, this is a mistake.

The village not only can raise the child, but it also influences the teen.

Of late, let’s face it — kids aren’t getting a great example of positive conflict resolution if they look online at local forums or watch the news.

And since my four sons have become adult men, I have been gobsmacked at how much went down in their lives when they were young that we had no idea about.

No matter how “good” we are as parents, we can’t know everything. Teens don’t want us to.

Regarding the bystanders and especially those filming and posting these fights — that is perhaps most troubling.

There is an important line between filming an illegal act and broadcasting it to reveal an injustice — such as with footage that has been released in the U.S. and Canada of police brutality or storming the Capitol — and celebrating violence.

Again, as adults, we have not done a great job with modelling this to kids as technology took over our lives, especially during the pandemic.

This fight site is a bit of a wake-up call for us, Squamish.

Now that we know, how will we act?

@ Copyright Squamish Chief