COLUMN: Province takes small first step

Funds for Surrey Wraparound program are good start, but more must be done to combat crime in the city.

Premier Christy Clark has been facing criticism for not speaking out on the ongoing violence in Surrey, involving low-level drug dealers.

On Tuesday, Clark took her critics on. She came to Surrey City Hall to meet with Mayor Linda Hepner, and then staged an elaborate announcement with Hepner, the RCMP and the school district to announce a number of initiatives to try to deal with the problem.

The centrepiece is another $270,000 for the Surrey Wraparound Program, known as Wrap. This program is delivered through the Surrey School District and involves school staff, the RCMP, parents and youth working together in a fairly intense manner. The goal is to positively attach youth to school, the community and their homes.

While the additional funds are a great step forward, the reality is that the Wrap program helps very few young people at one time. It currently serves 60 youth, and the additional funding (which is a one-time grant) will allow it to serve 15 to 20 more — and reduce the waiting list.

Given the thousands of young people in Surrey schools, and the significant number who have trouble dealing with a variety of situations, particularly during adolescence, it is a program that will never be able to meet potential demands.

On Monday, Surrey-Green Timbers MLA Sue Hammell noted in the provincial legislature that Surrey has just 10 school liaison officers, while Vancouver, a smaller school district, has 16.

Surrey RCMP have said they will boost the number of school liaison officers when a promised 130 additional officers arrive. That’s a positive step, and the sooner it happens, the better.

Police in schools is a critical step towards dealing with the challenges faced by many young people. As noted at last week’s public meeting in Newton, many parents are not aware of all their children are up to.

Social media and increased mobility have a lot to do with this. Parents rarely, if ever, know all of the people their children are in touch with via social media. They cannot keep up with all the connections they make through school.

As several speakers noted last week, young people do spend time with their families, but it often pales in comparison with the time they spend at school or outside the home.

If there are more school liaison officers in Surrey schools, those police officers will be able to observe up close what is going on there. They will, in some cases, be able to get in touch with families and let them know more about what their children are doing.

Parents remain the first line of defence in helping keep young people away from the destructive world of drug dealing. They know their children best, and the often have plenty of other family members who can play a significant role in helping turn things around.

However, parents need help – from police, from the school system and from friends of their children who also become concerned about changes in behaviour.

Clark also announced that $318,000 in grants from the civil forfeiture program will go towards crime prevention in Surrey this year. While this is significant, it represents the value of less than one home that has been seized and sold under the program. Her announcement of an integrated network of social, medical and justice service providers, through the Surrey Criminal Justice Task Force, is also a positive step forward.

However, one of the best moves to make with young people involved with the justice system, especially first-time offenders, is to have them go through the court process quickly, while the offence is still fresh in their minds.

Given the horrendous delays in securing court dates in Surrey, that will be a difficult thing to do.

The province’s attention to the challenge is welcome. Unfortunately, it is merely a first step.

Frank Bucholtz writes Thursdays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.

Just Posted

Rahim Manji owns and operates the Hollywood 3 Cinemas in Newton, along with the Caprice in South Surrey, a theatre in Duncan and another in Pitt Meadows. “I think right now it feels different than last June, it just does,” Manji said. “I’m a lot more optimistic, with more people calling, more people out and getting vaccinated, so I think the comfort level is a lot better.” (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey movie theatre operators reopen and rejoice, even with 50-max capacity

‘We have been one of the hardest-hit industries’

A sign warning of a pack of coyotes hangs near 2660 Croydon Dr. (Aaron Hinks photo)
South Surrey woman sounds alarm after encounter with pack of coyotes

Susan Martin said three full-grown coyotes were lurking around her home

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police searching for Surrey woman missing at Centennial Beach

Wenyan Lan, 54, reported missing when she didn’t come home from a crabbing/clam digging trip June 14

Ian MacDonald, spokesman for Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service launches public consultation campaign

This is to help the SPS form its first strategic plan

Outdoor vendors at the Cloverdale Flea Market are seen in this bird’s eye view image from the flea market’s Facebook page.
Cloverdale Flea Market to reopen

Market to open June 20 after being closed since Nov. 2020

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Most Read