A Winnipeg mother is voicing concerns over crime and safety in the city, after her 16-year-old child was attacked with what’s believed to be bear spray Wednesday night.
“Glad it was just bear spray and not a gun or a knife but I was also scared and worried,” Carla Cole told Global News.
Cole says her teenager and their friend went to the skatepark at the Clara Hughes Park on Henderson Highway Wednesday night, when they were bullied by another group of youths. She says it escalated to an argument when one of the youths bear-sprayed the pair.
Cole says they came home and paramedics were called and treated them on scene. She also says her family doesn’t feel safe in their Elmwood neighbourhood anymore.
“Where are these kids getting these weapons, getting bear spray? Where do you get bear spray as a kid?” she said.
“It’s concerning, very concerning that kids are able to get their holds on weapons so easily.”
Winnipeg police say they are investigating the incident, but so far haven’t been able to identify any suspects.
Gidget Martyn lives in the area and feels the pandemic may be playing a role in the rising youth crime.
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“With COVID, I’m worried what it did to our kids, taking them out of school. Exacerbating things now when they’re outside and interacting with each other,” Martyn said.
“I feel for the kids, I hope the kids that it happened to can carry on with their lives and have (safe) places to go.”
Joyce Clark, a youth advocate and board member with Fearless R2W, says more resources and supports need to be put in place for at-risk youth.
“I feel like crime is increasing but that’s because the youth are misunderstood, they’re not getting the supports they need to learn how to communicate effectively,” Clark said.
“I feel like there is a little bit of support needed, more mental health resources and cultural resources, so you have the opportunity to learn how to communicate and build skills in a positive way.”