A report of a picture being taken and distributed of an underage child in a dressing room after an early morning Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association ice session is prompting a larger conversation about the complexities of youth navigating the digital world.
In a statement, Harold Bloomenthal, president of the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association, said the association was aware of an incident involving a young teenage player inappropriately taking a photo in a dressing room last week.
A full investigation was undertaken and Bloomenthal said the picture was received via Snapchat by one person.
“There is no indication it went any further and was reported immediately.”
He clarified it was not a naked picture.
“The matter was resolved through disciplinary action, warnings about future incidents, apologies, and so forth,” Bloomenthal said. “As unfortunate as this is, we know children will make mistakes and we strive to help all concerned with reasonable outcomes. There have been numerous exaggerated reports circulating. We are dealing with children and hope to make a positive impact.”
Kristen McGillivray, a spokesperson for SD62, said the district is “aware of allegations of an incident occurring off school property and outside of school hours … As RCMP have an ongoing investigation, the Sooke School District is unable to comment further on the allegations.”
West Shore RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Nancy Saggar confirmed the detachment is investigating an incident but would not be sharing details or commenting further at this time as the case involves minors.
The incident did spark a larger conversation locally about teaching children how to interact in an increasingly complex digital space.
“As children, youth and teenagers navigate the complexities of digital literacy, online safety and consent, it is important that families are having continued conversations about critical thinking skills as well as an understanding of behaviours and their potential consequences,” McGillivray said in a statement.
The district aims to supplement at-home discussions with in-school programming, direct instruction and involvement from the safe and healthy schools team which provides support for students. In response to the complexities students are facing, SD62 also introduced a coordinator position to provide direct instruction and supports on the topics of healthy relationships, consent and sexual health for all grade levels.
Incidents like the one at Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey are part of a larger trend being seen across the province and nation.
In December 2022, Hockey Canada released a report detailing more than 900 documented or alleged incidents of on-ice discrimination – verbal taunts, insults and intimidation – across all levels and age groups during the 2021-22 season.
However, the organization said the report doesn’t reflect off-ice incidents of maltreatment, sexual violence or abuse, which will now be handled by the federal government’s Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner or a new independent third-party complaint process.
BC Hockey CEO Cameron Hope said in a previous interview with Black Press Media that his organization, which handles more than 60,000 minor and amateur hockey league players, has detailed policies and protocols in place for locker room privacy and the use of social media. For example, the use of phones in locker rooms is prohibited.
Educational modules and policies detailing appropriate conduct have been crafted and distributed to all individual associations with age-appropriate instructions on how they are to be delivered to each player. But while coaches are a vital part of delivering messages about behaviour, Hope said, not every player listens.
To deal with complaints, which Hope said range from kids calling each other names to the sharing of inappropriate images, BC Hockey has a multi-level approach called a “maltreatment tracking system” that documents each case to ensure they are investigated and taken seriously. BC Hockey also formed a new committee just to monitor complaints as they progress through the system.
For parents or caregivers looking for more resources, McGillivray recommended the province’s ERASE (expect respect and a safe education) program. For more information, go to gov.bc.ca/gov/content/erase.
-With files from Chris Campbell
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