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Victim Impact Statement

An incident at Dufferin Grove Park skating rink 19-Dec-2011 [853]

Victim Impact Statement

Martha Climenhaga

Witness in youth court case:, Robbery/Weapons Dangerous
incident 30 Dec. 2010

I grew up in Toronto. I work for a small energy company, but during the winter I also work part-time at Dufferin Grove Park, helping with programs at the skating rink.

This was the first time that I’ve been a victim of an attempted mugging. I always thought I would be terrified if someone held a knife to my throat, but when this actually happened I was less scared than I would have thought. Partly that may be a result of my training at the park, where we have a lot of ‘troubled youth’, teenagers that swagger around & try to start fights with each other and cause other disturbances in the park.

We’re trained to stand up to them, and calm them down, find out their names and get to know them, and try to find out more about why they might be behaving this way – and attempt to integrate them into the park community rather than exclude them. This can be a long process, and has lots of frustrations, but lots of successes too.

On the night of the incident, when this kid came up to me with a knife, I didn’t feel that different from a typical night at the rink. I saw a kid who was probably drunk, trying to act tough, and hoping to bluff me into thinking that he was a serious threat. I was nervous but I didn’t really feel like he would seriously hurt me. I think we both knew that he wouldn’t hurt me, but he wanted me to believe he might. In the end, he didn’t take anything, and when he left he was still ambling along trying to look tough (at least, that was my perception).

My impression of this person wasn’t so different from lots of the young people I deal with at the rink. He seems like a kid badly in need of a role model, who’s likely to follow the example of whomever he finds to lead him. If he goes to prison, he’ll find those role models in his fellow inmates. I don’t think that is likely to be the best thing for him, or for society. I would like to meet him, to find out more about where he’s come from, and why he’s doing things like this. I’d like it if he could come and do some community service at Dufferin Grove, and we both could find out more about each other, and he might find some more positive role models than inmates.

The biggest impact of this incident on me is worry about this kid, and about what he might become. He seems like maybe he’s on the edge of something right now, and what happens next determines whether he can straighten out and find some positive role models, start on a road to being a responsible member of society, or whether he finds negative role models that teach him how to truly become a threat to society.

If anyone involved with the case would like to interview me further please contact me.

Thank you
Martha Climenhaga