• School violence: Is it impacting your child’s ability to learn?

    Witnessing violent incidents in the classroom could be having a negative impact your child’s education.

    It was the topic of discussion at the first violence in schools symposium hosted by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario York. Nearly 200 attended, including parent school council members and ETFO members from across the region gathered at Thornhill’s Le Parc Banquet and Conference Centre to participate in the discussion.

    “We have reached a critical point with school violence so we are reaching out beyond our membership to find a solution,” ETFO York president David Clegg said. “This requires a conversation that we haven’t attempted before.”

    When the term school violence is used, the majority of society jump to bullying or student on student incidents, but in this case, the discussion needs to revolve around the increasing incidents of student on teacher violence, Clegg explained.

    In 2013-14 school year, 194 incidents were reported in York Region District School Board’s elementary schools, by the end of this school year, the ETFO York expects to have more than 1,000 incidents reported, nearly double what was reported last year.

    Clegg shared examples of what were written in these reports including death threats, broken windows and smartboards, a student repeatedly stabbing a teacher in the leg with a pencil and classroom evacuations if the child cannot be de-escalated. Audience members gasped when images of “trashed” classrooms flashed across the screen.

    A mannequin stood at the front of the room dressed in protective gear more and more teachers are being required to wear including a spit shield, bite guards, shin guards and even Kevlar vests. The assemble resembles riot gear, which onlookers felt would make a classroom feel hostile.

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