It was the random stabbing death of Akila Badhanage, 16, that put Nathan Mapp over the edge.
Badhanage was heading to his part-time job, earning money for
university, when somewhere along Lord Simcoe Dr. in Brampton he was
swarmed by a group of young men in an unprovoked attack and stabbed,
left to bleed out his young life on Sept. 28.
"What was the point of it?" asked Mapp, a Grade 12 student at Mississauga's Meadowvale Secondary School.
Outraged at another senseless death in the GTA, he posted a
Facebook group calling for an end to knives, an end to guns and an end
It's never crossed his mind to carry a knife, though he's heard stories about people who do.
Kitchen knives. Pocket knives. Swiss Army knives.
So it didn't really surprise him when the findings of a recent
Sun survey showed that more than half of the 600-plus respondents --
many of them under 17 -- packed a knife.
"They carry them because they feel that it would protect them
better if anything were to happen to them," Mapp said. "Other people
just carry it to be like, 'I'm cool.' "
Other survey findings included: One-tenth of those who carried
a knife said they have needed medical attention for a knife wound; 20%
said knives are regularly seized at their schools; and those under 14
said they carried a knife mostly for "protection."
"You hear all the time that people start fights and they pull
out a knife," Mapp said. "So one person has their fists, another person
has a knife. Who's gonna win?"
When the Sun survey went online last Wednesday, The Magazine
took note. Its online edition, which attracts 14- to 17-year-olds,
hyper-linked to the Sun survey and featured a discussion on its
bulletin board. By yesterday morning, more than 200 people had visited
the discussion group.
Ed Conroy, associate editor of The Magazine, was shocked by the findings.
"I think because there's been so much emphasis lately on guns,
that the knife thing sort of slipped under the radar," Conroy said
But teens commenting on the website were "blase."
"It seemed that most of them weren't very surprised that so
many people had responded that they did carry (knives)," Conroy said.
"There's sort of a, 'Yeah, you know, whatever,' sort of attitude, which
I find kind of frightening."
"It's a reaction to a perception that because other people
have them, they have to have them," said Conroy. "Not so much in the
fashion sense, but 'I need one because someone might pull one on me.' "
According to Statistics Canada in 2006, the most recent year
for which there are statistics, stabbing deaths outnumbered homicides
involving firearms across the nation. Of 210 victims, just over
one-third were killed by stabbings -- 20 more than were shot.