Sat, June 16, 2007

Anti-brawl campaign called ineffective

UPDATED: 2007-06-16 01:55:34 MST


Encouraging young men to "cage their rage" is a weak solution to deterring bar brawls, the mother of an 18-year-old murdered at a Calgary club said yesterday.

Steffi Stehwien, whose son, Aaron Shoulders, was stabbed to death outside a downtown nightclub in 2003, suggested the province's new awareness campaign will do little.

"It takes a lot more than awareness," she said.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will unveil a campaign next week that addresses bar violence, said spokeswoman Marilyn Carlyle-Helms.

"We're targeting males 18 to 24," she said, declining to disclose other details.

But Stehwien, whose son's murder remains unsolved, said stiffer penalties for assault and murder are necessary.

"The first thing that has to be addressed is the lenient sentences for murder and for inflicting violence on other people -- everyone gets away with it."

But Karen Venables, whose 18-year-old son Devin died as the result of a single punch to the head outside a Calgary pub in November 2003, supports the initiative.

She hopes it will teach young men fists can do as much damage as weapons.

"It doesn't take a beating, it doesn't take a knife, it doesn't take a gun to kill someone -- this was one punch."

She said bystanders to brawls are part of the problem. "That fuels and encourages the bully and it gives them power," said Venables.

Solicitor General and Public Security Minister Fred Lindsay will formally announce the campaign on Monday.



"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

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