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***(Canada) "Rampant violence" in Ottawa elem schools; parents blamed for "volatile" kids

June 6, 2019, Ottawa Citizen: Adam: School violence is rampant, and no one has a handle on it In a series of recent stories, Citizen reporter Jacquie Miller laid bare a problem in our schools that defies comprehension: rising violence in classrooms across the city that is perpetrated by children barely out of their diapers. It’s not just kids in kindergarten. It appears our elementary schools are infested with uncontrollable young primary-schoolers who attack teachers and destroy property. And worryingly, the people running our schools – board staff and trustees alike – do not appear to have a handle on why this is happening, let alone deal with it effectively. Ottawa-Carleton District School Board statistics quoted by the Citizen show a dramatic increase in “violent incidents” reported by staff over the last three years. In 2015-16, 1,909 incidents were reported, compared to 3,746 in 2017-18, a 96 per cent increase. In the first seven months of this school year, 4,223 incidents had already been reported. It is no better at the Ottawa Catholic School Board where violent incidents more than tripled in five years. Not surprisingly, suspensions are up, too. The OCDSB issued a total of 3,753 suspensions in 2017-18, a 12 per cent increase over the previous year. At the Catholic board, violent incidents that resulted in suspensions or expulsions more than tripled from 59 in 2013-14 to 198 in 2017-18. This is not about run-of-the-mill behaviour like kids throwing tantrums or not listening. It is about violence with malice. “Yes, they are tiny. But they are absolutely aiming with intent. It’s, ‘I want to hurt her because I’m mad,’” one teacher told the Citizen. “I’ve had kids say, ‘I’ll have you fired, you f—–g b—h. You are a f—–g c–t. You can’t touch me,’” another said. You just have to wonder how we got here. Clearly, some parents are failing their kids. The violence is largely directed at teachers who are threatened, kicked, hit, bitten, scratched, spat and sworn at. Many teachers are so stressed out, they are increasingly taking sick leave. Some have, or considered quitting. … What’s frustrating is that the authorities don’t appear to have a clear understanding of the causes of the bad behaviour, and much is left to speculation, which is not good enough in the face of such a serious problem. There appears to be a number of reasons for the problem. Among them: The integration of children with special needs into regular classrooms without the appropriate support. One teacher complains that kids with different problems and special needs are all jammed into one big classroom, and they are impossible to manage. “It’s a gong show,” she said. And this at a time where the Ontario government is pushing its plan to increase class sizes. The other issue appears to be an increasing number of children without the proper parental support at home, who come to school stressed, and can easily become volatile. Others suggest an increasing number of children spend so much time on digital devices, that they don’t cultivate the interpersonal skills needed to fit in with others, or ability to deal with their emotions. The problem is difficult to deal with, not only because it involves little children, but also because there’s little reliable data to work with. This is more than an Ottawa phenomenon, and school boards and the provincial government must take it more seriously than they are now. If kids are behaving this way at a very young age, what kind of adults will they become? We have to make a choice on whether we want to take care of our children now, or, as a society, pay the price later.


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