One girl treated, one arrested after fight at SYHS

Staff Report

Editor’s Note: Despite requests from some readers, the Santa Ynez Valley Star is not reposting the video of the April 4 fight at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. However, our staff will be following up with articles on the issue of bullying in the valley and information on resources that offer help to prevent or deal with it.

One girl was sent to the hospital and another to Juvenile Hall after the two students fought April 4 at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

Just before 10 a.m. that day, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the campus after a report of a fight between the two students, whom the Star will not name because they are minors.

The investigation determined that the girls were involved in a fight near the girls locker room by the Old Gym. One of them was transported to a local hospital, treated for injuries and released. The other was arrested for felony battery and booked into Santa Maria Juvenile Hall.

The Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate in conjunction with the high school’s administration. The fight was videotaped and posted on social media, where it became a hot topic of discussion in the valley. The page where it was posted has since been taken down.

“None of us at Santa Ynez High School take this incident lightly. Student safety is our top priority. I can assure you that the school’s disciplinary response will be vigorous and appropriate,” said Principal Mark Swanitz in a statement released the afternoon of the incident.

The high school has a hotline to report cyber bullying anonymously through a third-party system at 805-270-2942. Anyone can text or call this number to report any kind of bullying, harassment, intimidation, drug or alcohol use, or any other dangerous or illegal activity on campus.

“Our life skills program at the junior high level teaches prevention skills and how to deal with everything from bullying, stress and building confidence. Seeing the statistics of bullying in our schools is quite alarming, and now is the time to act,” said Mary Conway, director of the Santa Ynez Valley Youth Coalition through People Helping People.

Here are some key statistics from the California Healthy Kids Survey administered in public schools throughout the state:

– Over the past eight years, local ninth- and 11th-grade students reported that an average of 40 percent of them have been verbally bullied at school.

– An average of 28 percent of ninth-graders reported that they have been physically bullied (pushed, shoved, or hit).

– And an average of 20 percent of 11th-graders reported physical bullying on campus.

The survey reports that the reasons for bullying are typically focused on race or ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender, sexual preference, or physical or mental disability.

“Any bullying would be unacceptable, but these sorts of rates should set off an alarm bell. They are extraordinarily high, consistently 20 percent or more than the average of countywide high schools,” wrote Dean Palius, executive director for People Helping People, in a December column in the Star.