According to Princeton Secondary School Principal Patrick Kaiser, bullies have evolved to become psychological and social tormentors. Stock photo.

According to Princeton Secondary School Principal Patrick Kaiser, bullies have evolved to become psychological and social tormentors. Stock photo.

RCMP respond to an increase in bullying at Princeton high school

Today’s bullies are educated and creative: principal

Police and school safety experts have been called into Princeton Secondary School following a disturbing spike in incidents of bullying.

“It’s a pattern behaviour of name calling, pushing and shoving in the hallways, taking possessions and hiding them – little things to try to disempower somebody that through the pattern becomes a big deal,” said principal Patrick Kaiser.

“There were elements of cyberbullying, slash conflict, as well.”

The problems are occurring mostly with grade nine students, and have been brewing for several months.

“We probably got a sense in mid to late October that this was unusual and we started implementing things right then. We increased our school awareness, increased our presence in the hallway and adjusted classes for our grades eight and nine…to try to minimize the power of some of these individuals.”

There have been minor injuries reported related to physical conflicts, he said.

“There are a number of things that we have gone through – parent conversations, student conversations; lots and lots of student conversations.”

In February – and following the dictates of the school’s bullying policy – the RCMP were called in to help address the situation.

Constable Ryan Henley told The Spotlight there was no official complaint about any incident.

“Multiple kids came forward and expressed [about] some bullying types of behaviour,” he said.

Henley gave presentations about bullying to small groups.

“I felt that they went pretty good. I was a school liaison in one of my previous jobs so I have some experience…It was an opportunity for discussion and information.”

He declined to specify details of the incidents that were shared.

“The last thing I want to do is to single out a child or make it clear what parties are involved.”

When asked how the recent incidents compare to other complaints of bullying he has dealt with, Kaiser said “this year has certainly been an anomaly…We struggle to come up with reasons for what is going on because if I could put my finger on it I think I would be able to stop it.”

He has noticed an evolution in how bullies operate.

“Rarely do you see the typical bully [saying] ‘Gimme your lunch money.’ It’s way more psychological and social.”

Anti-bullying campaigns may actually play a role in the current situation, he added.

“With social media now and the growing awareness and all of that, [it] has partially educated our bullies on how to be creative.”

Related: COLUMN: The lingering effects of bullying

In February, nine PSS staff members attended a professional development session on bullying, and came away with new techniques for teachers to head off bullying in the classroom, said Kaiser.

Those ideas – including getting bullies to work constructively with other students to foster empathy and responsibility – are already being implemented.

Last week the school hosted a social media session to educate parents and a group from Safe Teen, which runs an international violence prevention strategy, will visit the school in April to speak to kids.

Kaiser said while students have been disciplined for bullying incidents “that is just a small piece of what is going to result in change. We have to hold students accountable through consequence but we also have to work with them through conversation to help them understand the significance of what they have done. Without that change won’t happen.”

In some cases the school has employed restorative justice methods to bring bullies and victims together.

“That has been used on occasion [after] determining with the victim as to where they are at. I don’t want to put the victim in a situation where they are going to feel powerless again…in a number of cases I wouldn’t put the victim in that situation with that person yet.”

Kaiser said it is also important to not stigmatize a child who has bullied.

“I don’t believe the kids who are doing this are bad kids,” he said. “I don’t believe we have any bad kids here at PSS, just kids who make mistakes.”

Related: Brenda Lucki to lead RCMP as force struggles with bullying, sexism

To report a typo, email:
publisher@similkameenspotlight.com
.



andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo submitted.
Princeton homeowners turn things on with solar power

You are essentially prepaying for 10-20 years worth of electricity

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
67 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty people in the region are hospitalized with the virus, 11 of whom are intensive care

Greg Hopf, left, and Darryl Sangster, the franchise owners of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control’s Okanagan location, safely removed a family of raccoons from a parked boat outside of a southeast Kelowna home on April 17. (Facebook: Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control, Okanagan B.C.)
Safe removal of raccoon family kickstarts busy season for Okanagan wildlife group

A mother raccoon and her five babies were discovered at a parked boat outside of a southeast Kelowna home on April 17

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

Shuswap businesses dependent on  tourism are bracing for further details of travel restrictions expected to be announced by Friday, April 23. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
B.C. travel restrictions create uncertainty among North Okanagan-Shuswap businesses

Sicamous mayor to ramp up campaign against licence plate hate

The site of a proposed water bottling facility referred to in a groundwater licence application is in the vicinity of this intersection. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Concerns raised over water licence application in Salmon Arm for bottling water

Neighbours want to know more, city councillor concerned about commercial use of public aquifers

Sheldon Pierre Louis’s winning mural design, “kʷu mr̓imstn, we are medicine.” (Facebook: Okanagan Nation Alliance)
Syilx artist selected as winner of Kelowna Gospel Mission’s mural project

Sheldon Pierre Louis was also awarded $10,000 for his winning submission, “kʷu mr̓imstn, we are medicine.”

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Most Read