Teens being swarmed, forced to kiss their attackers' shoes in bullying ritual, Vancouver police say

Vancouver Police Department headquarters is seen in Vancouver, on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver police are warning about a "concerning trend" of teens targeting their peers for "humiliating and demeaning bullying rituals" which are filmed and sometimes posted online.

On Tuesday, the department described these incidents in a warning.

"These rituals typically include a group of teens surrounding a lone victim, then punching, kicking, and slapping them until they fall to the ground, before forcing them to kiss their attackers’ shoes," according to a statement.

Spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison said teens are often reluctant to tell parents or police if they have been victimized in this way.

"These incidents don’t just cause physical harm, they can lead to deep-rooted emotional trauma that leave permanent scars,” he said.

"Sadly, the very nature of these incidents often deters victims from coming forward, because they fear retribution and further humiliation."

Police are encouraging parents and caregivers to talk to their kids people about bullying, and for teens to reach out to a trusted adult if they have been a victim.