BARRIE, Ont. — Brandon Crisp's high school will move quickly to offer programs on the safe use of technology following the tragic disappearance and apparent death of the 15-year-old after he fought with his parents over an online video game, the school's principal said Thursday.
Grieving students left tributes for Crisp at St. Joseph's High School, one day after a body believed to be the teen was found in a rural area only kilometres from his home.
The tragedy has given administrators a lot to think about, said principal Matt McCann.
"Students are so tech literate, and they're ahead of us, as adults, but I think also with it comes another factor that they may not always be aware of - dangers," he said.
Crisp's parents had been vocal since he vanished about their son's obsession with his Internet-linked Xbox gaming console. Manufacturer Microsoft also put energy into investigating other players the teen may have met while playing online in hopes he was hiding out with one of them.
Crisp ran away from home Thanksgiving Day after his parents said they were taking the console away for good.
Since then, McCann said the school has ordered several educational programs on consumer technologies - like text messaging, social networking and online gaming - for administrators to preview. The school is also discussing bringing in guest speakers.
"We'll have to accelerate what we're going to do," McCann said. "All of us need tools. All the staff, we need tools, and the kids need that also, and (we'll) draw whatever lessons we can from it."
Students at the school, many appearing visibly distraught on leaving for the day, were skeptical about the educators' plans.
"It's a waste of time, everybody's just going to forget by the end of the day," said Michael Monk, 15. "I think it's not the fault of video games."
Janie Quinn, 15, said while the incident has made her more aware of potential dangers, she believes it's the job of parents to keep tabs on their children.
Jennifer, who didn't want her last name used, said while she doesn't believe teens can truly get addicted to gaming, they do need to learn limits.
"Kids need to realize it's not something to be done 24-7, it's something to be done once in a blue moon," she said. "Playing games as soon as you get home from school is not having a life."
Groups of gamers at the school have been getting increasingly angry about the negative attention the incident has put on their pastime, said Ryan Nelsen, 15.
Barbara Coloroso, a Colorado-based author of numerous parenting books, said she believes it's possible to become addicted to Internet gaming.
"I worked at a university where 22 young people failed their freshman year - all very bright kids - and they were addicted to the Internet, and that's how they failed at a very prestigious university," she said in an interview during a visit to Toronto on Thursday.
She advised parents to limit the gaming time of young kids so when "they reach the teen years, they've developed limits and boundaries themselves that you have helped guide them to."
Coloroso called Crisp's story a "tragedy."
"The death of a child is the biggest hole you can put in anyone's heart."
While Crisp's school holds occasional in-school "Guitar Hero" video game competitions - where one prize for the winner in the past has been an Xbox - McCann said they don't plan to put an end to them, mainly because the competitions aren't connected to the Internet.
"There's no chance in those (competitions) for the kids to meet up or to be exposed to somebody or anything on the Net," he said. "It's internal, we're not circulating it, we don't send off the results and no personal information goes out from that.
"We don't have fear about that."
Throughout the day, students struggling with the loss spoke to grief counsellors. Around the school, ribbons of yellow, symbolizing hope, and those of green, for Child Find, have been replaced by white ones representing spiritual goodness and purity.
A prayer table has also been set up beside a chapel inside the school so the 1,100 students can express their sorrow. Candles flickered next to a photograph of the teen, and beneath a drawing of an angel is a message that begins: "God, in your hands you hold Brandon."
Many have written their thoughts in a condolence book that will be presented to the Crisp's family.
A post-mortem on the remains believed to be Crisp's will be performed Friday morning, the chief coroner's office said.
While police have said they don't suspect foul play and that the community should not be concerned for its safety, Barrie police Sgt. Dave Goodbrand said it's too early to rule out anything in the case.