Stabbing at North Peace Secondary School

A violent fight broke out at North Peace Secondary School yesterday, resulting in one boy going to the hospital and another in police custody.

"Two guys got into a fight; one guy got stabbed," said one student.

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"The guy who got stabbed ran and got a pipe and beat the crap out of the other kid; the other kid got away."

The Fort St. John RCMP responded to a complaint that there had been a stabbing at North Peace Secondary School at 10:20 yesterday morning.

Three eye-witnesses reported seeing a pipe used in the fight, but there has been no official comment about the weapons involved.

Police said that they located the victim at the school and the alleged stabber was found a "short distance" away after fleeing the scene. He was taken into police custody.

The victim was taken to the hospital by ambulance and is now in stable condition, according to the RCMP.

"It's a tough situation for everyone, particularly for the boy who's in hospital," said Larry Espe, superintendent of School District 60.

"The bottom line is any time you have something like this, we want to make sure it doesn't happen again. We're thinking of the families."

He wouldn't comment on whether either of the students involved had any previous record of violence.

"I don't know that history right now," said Espe.

He noted that there are counsellors at the school and others in the district that were made "alerted and ready."

"That's one of the reasons we left the school open so kids could be there with their teachers, their friends," he said.

He said this decision was made in consultation with the RCMP, who determined that it was safe for the school to remain open.

"We wanted to try and get things back to normal as quickly as we could," he said.

The RCMP noted that the two students involved in the fight knew each other.

"It's because he stole his girlfriend - that's legit," said one student, regarding the cause of the dispute.

These events are often a "personal cause thing," according to an expert in school threat assessment.

Glenn Woods is the former director of the behavioural sciences branch of the RCMP. He is also a registered criminal profiler focusing on risk and threat assessment. He now runs a company that uses that knowledge to train various organizations, including schools.

He said that this level of violence is uncommon.

"Was there really an intent on the part of one individual to hurt or kill the other? Or was this an act of fooling around that just kind of went the wrong direction?"

He said in cases like this, where the victim and offender were known to each other, it's less likely to affect the school than a random act of violence.

"I think in the context of this violence, it's not a big worry to the parents, to the school, to the kids because they see that it was one person on another," he said.

"It wasn't a random attack."

However, he said it was likely that threats were uttered before that attack but not reported by the students. People often just think their friend is "venting."

"Often what happens is kids are afraid to report things, even if they're minor, because they're afraid there's going to be punitive action either taken against them or taken against the people when they're not really sure something's going to happen."

He said the more that can be done to allow teachers and administration to be aware of what's happening, "the more likely they'll hear about these things in advance and be able to do something about it."

According to one student, at least 15 students watched the incident and a teacher was on hand almost immediately.

Espe said there will be debriefing about this incident.

"There's going to be some follow up about lots of things, what we did right, what we could've done differently. There's some procedures I'm really pleased with."

Woods said that in schools with good communication between teachers and students, it is easier for administrators to intervene when a situation becomes violent.

"Things like (this stabbing) are really hard to predict and I don't think a measure of the school's ability," said Woods. "There are just some things you can't prevent."

The incident has left some students shaken and worried about returning to class.

"It's a little bit scary. It shows the school's not really good for security," said one student.

"It makes me uneasy to come to school."

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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