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***(Canada) ON district sees INCREASE in "aggressive behaviours"; 'issues are everywhere'

April 12, 2019, (Canada) Toronto London Free Press: Troubled students. Terrified classmates. No easy fix Throwing books and upending chairs. Kicking, punching, yelling. Lockdowns regularly called during violent outbursts, meaning classrooms and even whole school floors grind to a standstill – and learning stops. Parents of children at some schools in the Thames Valley District school board say they’re at their wit’s end when it comes to constant disturbances at their schools caused by students who not only interrupt their children’s education, but also scare them so much they no longer want to attend. For London parent Jeremy Buckle, whose child is in Grade 2 at Hillcrest public school in northeast London, the risk of what the system calls classroom inclusivity – putting students with severe behavioural problems in regular classes – is becoming too great. “We’re used to seeing a police car parked outside the school but my worst fear is there will be an ambulance as well,” Buckle said. Though it may come as a surprise to some, the rash of violence is taking place in classes with children as young as four, with a rise in incidents reported in the primary grades of kindergarten to Grade 3. It’s a growing problem across the province. In surveys by two teachers’ unions, more than three-quarters of educators said the severity of violence in classrooms and playgrounds is increasing. … Jeremy Buckle fears a student at his daughter’s school, Hillcrest public school, will one day be harmed because the school isn’t doing enough to manage the problem of out-of-control students. … Both parents stress they aren’t complaining about the students whose behavior is violent and defiant. What they object to is what they see as a lack of support by those in authority for both the students causing the disturbances, who may need special supports, and students affected by it. “We can’t blame the child; we have to blame the system,” Smith said. … However, Canham said, the school will move a student when necessary to a specialized, self-contained classroom…. Aggressive behaviours, violent tendencies “pervasive” “We are losing control of our schools,” declares one local teachers union leader, who describes violence as “pervasive.”… “There are students who display aggressive behaviour and violent tendencies – it doesn’t matter what district we’re in. These issues are everywhere,” he said. “It seems to be a particular problem in the primary grades.”… And, the problem seems to have shifted from the senior to primary grades, he said. Elementary teachers in the London District Catholic school board report pupils hitting, biting, kicking, tearing things off the wall and sometimes tossing desks, said Joanne Schleen, local president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA)…. “Is there a rise in violence in our elementary or in primary grades? Absolutely,” she said. “They are frustrated children – generally speaking children don’t do that but there could be triggers in classroom that would get them to do that.” But inclusivity – the practice of putting students with special needs in regular classrooms – shouldn’t mean more violence, Schleen said. “I do not believe that the problems in our schools regarding violence in our elementary classrooms is the result of inclusivity,” she said. “The rise in violence is a more recent issue. I believe that we have more and more children entering our schools with more needs than they have in the past. What we require is additional support to assist those students.”… “This child doesn’t belong here”… Working out a safety plan is of primary importance, including having difficult conversations about potential constraints and classroom evacuation. “The bigger issue is spreading knowledge and understanding and working together as a team to try and figure out what is behind the behaviour and what can be done to ensure this child’s success and success of peers, as well,” she said. “I think removing a child in a situation like that as well is a Band-Aid solution.” ON THE FRONT LINES Unions representing Ontario’s teachers have been tracking violence for years in surveys of their members. Some results: Catholic teachers (elementary and secondary) 89%: respondents who witnessed or experienced violence or harassment 85%: respondents who say violent incidents are increasing 85%: respondents who say severity of violence is increasing 75%: respondents who believe violence makes teaching more difficult (Source: Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association) Public elementary teachers 83%: members who agree violence is “making teaching difficult” 79%: members who say violence has increased 75%: members who say severity of violence has increased 70%: members who’ve experienced violence 36%: members who’ve been part of classroom evacuation (Source: Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario)


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