What was MP Garry Breitkreuz thinking?
March 29, 2012
OTTAWA Citizen, March 29 — Saskatchewan Tory MP Garry Breitkreuz found himself in hot water Thursday after an Ottawa mother complained he told a Grade 10 class that everyone in Canada should be armed — especially girls.
Wow! Breitkreuz has obviously never spent much time around a high school.
Any veteran teacher will tell you that the most dangerous creature in a high school is a grade nine or ten girl. From time to time, high school boys fight. The battles are usually structured affairs, played out according to a generally-accepted set of rules, and scored on a primitive points basis. Sure, passions run high, but the goal is a limited one, and at least around the school the thing plays out with an eye to future consequences.
As a vice principal I had occasion to speak to a few pugilists in my office. One conversation which comes to mind was with a young man who was no stranger to battle, in the school after sessions in various detention facilities. He commented upon a couple of his Somali friends: “The reason that those guys are so dangerous is that they are totally unco-ordinated. They just can’t fight. So they pick up anything they can lay hands on and use it as a weapon, and they’re so scared they don’t know how or when to quit.”
The deadliest fight I have ever broken up didn’t look like much. Seven or eight well dressed grade nine girls were gathered in a tight circle outside the school on the lunch hour of a snowy January day. Except that I noticed another equally well dressed girl on the ground, inside the circle. They were methodically stomping her into the ice. I broke it up. The girls moved away while I helped the victim. Then I had to restrain the bruised and bloodied kid from scrambling after the nearest of her attackers, teeth and claws bared.
It was all I could do to restrain a 105 pound, 14 year-old in a berserker’s rage. I had to pick her up. With feet off the ground she calmed down enough for me to get her into the school. The cause of the attack was a rumour linking the victim, a new girl to the school, with the boyfriend of one of her attackers. The scary part of the episode was that none of them knew how to quit.
When Garry Breitkreuz mused about arming teen-aged girls for their own protection, he was probably thinking about a deterrent for predatory older males. But in my experience the biggest threat to the fourteen year-old girl is another fourteen-year-old girl and her friends. Around a school yard boys fight to score points and win status. Girls fight to destroy rivals. This is absolutely not the place for firearms.