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Bullying ‘not really a big issue’

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Bullying is not a big problem facing youth in Whistler, says a group of high school students.

"It’s less of a problem here than in the city," said Jenny Shaflik, a Whistler secondary student who moved to the resort from suburban Vancouver four years ago. "It’s not really a big issue."

Shaflik and two other Grade 11 media studies students, Sandy Tyler and Roman Zabilka, sat down with the Pique last week to discuss local youth issues and concerns.

"It’s mostly verbal bullying," added Tyler. "It’s just joking around but people can get hurt by words."

Tyler and Zabilka are also members of Whistler’s Youth Action Team that recently attended a youth violence conference in the Lower Mainland.

But despite the students downplaying the bullying issue, that theme was front and centre during B.C. Youth Week 2001, which ran from May 5-11.

This year’s youth week mandate focused on empowering and developing young people, encouraging more active youth participation and promoting a positive image of youths.

Local events included an essay writing contest on bullying, an anti-bullying performance for elementary school students, a cultural awareness day, a marijuana forum and youth awards.

Youth week has been celebrated in B.C. during the first week of May since 1995.

According to Youth Action Team co-ordinator Greg McDonnell, Whistler’s youth culture is not going to hell in a handbasket.

"They’re really bright," he said. "They want to take action and they’re taking issues into their own hands."

These students, however, might not fit the typical Whistler image: they’re not die-hard skiers or snowboarders.

Shaflik, for example, is an aspiring artist and holds down a part-time job at a souvenir shop during the school year, while Tyler and Zabilka commuted between Whistler and West Vancouver this winter to pursue their dreams of playing hockey.

The students also identified other concerns, including the need for a youth drop-in centre, an underage night club and a bigger movie theatre.

"Whistler’s not a real town, Shaflik said. "It’s totally fake and everyone pretends it’s perfect.

"But there’s nothing going on unless you’re rich."

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