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Toronto tightens ban on snowball fights

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TORONTO, Ontario (Reuters) -- A snowball fight is almost a rite of passage for students in Canada but Toronto schools are moving to strengthen a ban on the practice they say is violent and dangerous.

As the first big snowfall greeted Canada's most populous city this week, schools encouraged students to engage in kinder, gentler activities, such as building snow forts or riding sleds.

"We don't encourage people to throw things at other people - rocks, sticks or snow," Maureen Kaukinen, system superintendent for the Toronto District School Board, told Reuters Tuesday.

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While snowball fights are expected to continue to rage off the schoolyard, Kaukinen said schools cannot condone acts of violence.

The school board, in keeping with a nonviolence code in the province of Ontario, plans to suspend students who injure others using snowballs.

Schools have had problems with snowballs in the past. In December, a child was mistakenly trapped in a giant snowball his friends were rolling in their school yard in nearby Niagara Falls. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was required to revive him.

Kaukinen said that to avoid such dangers students are reminded that snow should stay on the ground and not become an instrument of violence.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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