Community Response Needed to Support our Youth

The tragedy in Walnut Grove last summer has led the Langley community to challenge the school district to develop a strategy to address concerns with respect to drug use and the inappropriate use of social media. We certainly cannot take on these issues alone. Fortunately, the Langley School District has a great working relationship with the RCMP and many service providers that work with our youth and families. We will need to work together alongside our youth to determine the best course of action going forward.

Schools serve as excellent settings for staff to connect with students. However, there is also incredible expertise amongst our service providers in order to wrap around youth and families in crisis. District staff will ensure families receive support during times of need but access to outside counselling services and drug addiction programs can be difficult. School sites may be able to best address issues of access to community supports if all of us can partner to make this a reality. Many spaces in schools are available after 3:30 p.m. and also on weekends. In some places, there is even space available during the day. I am sure youth can also provide their voice to gaps that exist in programs and supports. The District hopes to host a youth forum in the Fall to hear these voices.

With respect to social media there is still tremendous work that needs to take place in terms of appropriate student use. Once again, the school district cannot do this alone. Adults that lack cell phone etiquette, or who are more focused on recording events than intervening when help is required, and utilize social media to attack and bully others behind the anonymity of their laptops, all undermine work by the school district to guide youth in a positive way with respect to technology. Adults need to act as role models in digital citizenship. Once again, the community and school district must work together to initiate changes in this area. Highlighting the recent student protests with respect to climate change can also show the power of technology to impact positive social change when channeled in the right way.

As part of our District Strategic Plan we are committed to working with our community partners to help each student reach their full potential. The tragedy in Walnut Grove will certainly test all of us to work together to better serve our youth. The District is challenging our community to be a part of this journey.


Gord Stewart


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