----Violence at Grande-Rivière High School
Aylmer’s youth deal with violence at school. Over the years, there have been countless fist fights, broken legs and other rumbles. With the newish ubiquity of social media, these fights, common to high schools around the globe, have increasingly damaging effects. Parents of Grande-Rivière High (ESGR) students see video footage of big groups of kids surrounding fist fighting students. By large groups, the count is over twenty kids, at a minimum. Just last week, ESGR parents worked together to write letters requesting improved safety for kids after a girl was apparently physically assaulted by an ex-boyfriend. These letters are going to the various boards of control in the education system.
In Quebec, students are legally protected against violence at schools. Quebec Bill 56 obliges all employed and elected officials involved with schools to ensure students are safe from bullying and all types of violence. Actually beating each other up is strictly prohibited. Yet it happens. The Bulletin has been provided countless video and image examples of fist fighting, elbow punching, whacking on the sides of heads with books, school bags and other items, as well as other acts of cruelty between students.
There is no acceptable explanation as to why or how this violence occurs. Of course, the personal stories of the kids involved play central roles; and that is a topic in itself. The point here is that these kids are inside or nearby schools because they are required by one arm of the law to attend school. Another arm of the law fails to provide a violence-free place where these kids spend their days.
The violence – even if just three swift punches to the jaw, isn’t only suffered by the kids inflicting it and receiving it. Those around, those younger kids who hear of such things in their halls are also effected, for a long time, in many cases.
What parents who have shared their experiences with school violence repeat to the Bulletin is a sense of exasperation. They ask: “how is violence at schools possible with so many adults in their environment, adults who are obliged by law (Bill 56) to protect students from violence?” This question begs answering.
Quebec has changed the way school boards are structured. They are now school service centres. Times of change are excellent times to demand attention to problems. Will all the adults involved directly or indirectly in preventing violence at ESGR actually pay better attention to this obligation? Can 2020-2021 be the school year kids stop fist fighting and physically assaulting each other?