Maybe it was a poor joke. Maybe it was psychopathic behaviour.
An 18-year-old man in Kelowna, B.C. fell asleep at a party last Friday and was set on fire by someone who first poured some sort of liquid fuel on him.
The teen suffered second- and third-degree burns to his back; what a police officer called “very serious injuries.” He remains in hospital as of Thursday.
A second 18-year-old man and a 20-year-old man have been charged with aggravated assault.
The pair should feel quite fortunate that they don’t face a charge of attempted murder. Setting someone on fire can be a fatal mistake, and the use of fuel shows complete contempt for the victim’s life.
Risky behaviour and young people have likely been part of life since we lived in caves. Few people begrudge teens a wild time. Bones get broken, a little blood gets spilled but everyone gets home alive. Hooray for socialized medicine.
News reports indicate the Kelowna assault was videotaped, which may make the judge’s work on the case short and sweet.
The willingness of young people – and some older folks too – to have the most intimate and incriminating moments of their lives captured on video begs the question: do people do stupider things when a camera is pointed at them?
It’s not an excuse for bad behaviour; more of an observation of the human condition circa 2012.
British Columbia has been the site of some regrettable incidents for teens in recent years. Amanda Todd’s suicide was foreshadowed when she uploaded videos about the bullying she endured.
In 2008, four young people – as young as 15 – were charged in the murder of a 14-year-old boy who went drinking with a group in an abandoned house in Surrey, B.C. All the victim wanted to do was make friends, police said.
It was also in that province that 14-year-old Reena Virk was killed by a group of teens she believed were her friends. Those thugs stubbed a cigarette out on her forehead and tried to set her hair on fire.
Because death is possible when young people lose control, last week’s attack in Kelowna should be another wake-up call for social services in B.C. The teen was badly burned and could have died; it must have been a very close call.
The perpetrators – be they sadists or psychopaths – need more than jail time. They need treatment before they graduate to a fatal attack.
Are teens acting worse today than when you were a kid? Is B.C. a riskier place to grow up or are the recent news stories just a statistical blip?