Time to get tough on bullies

The talk of the town over the past week certainly has centered around the situation at Fort Frances High School, where some students allegedly are plotting to attack other students next Friday (Dec. 22).
Unfortunately, as tends to happen in situations like these, the rumours are spreading like wildfire—and often are much worse than the facts at hand.
The conundrum facing school officials, of course, is whether this “plot” constitutes a genuine threat—or merely is a prank that got out of hand, fuelled by “fear-mongers,” as FFHS principal Gord McCabe called them in a letter to parents last week, bent on disrupting school life as much as possible.
Trouble is, there’s no real way to know for sure. And given the tragedies that have happened at too many other schools in recent years, it’s understandable that students, parents, staff, and the community at large are very concerned by all this.
So what’s the solution? Pull kids out of school, at least until after the Christmas break? Install metal detectors at all entrances to Fort High? Have police patrolling the hallways?
Let’s hope such drastic measures are never needed. On the other hand, we can’t delude ourselves into thinking that Columbine or Taber or Dawson College couldn’t happen here. It most certainly can—just as it can in any other city or small town across the country.
That’s precisely what makes the current situation so disconcerting.
We can never eliminate every threat or danger, but that’s not to say we should throw in the towel, either. Clearly, more has to be done to drum home the anti-bullying message into our kids.
Equally important, bullying no longer can be tolerated in any way, shape, or form. It is criminal behaviour—and should be treated as such. That means laying charges, not simply handing out three-day suspensions.
It’s high time to get tough on bullies in any circumstance.