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Toronto, episodes of violence in four out of ten schools

TORONTO – Violence occurs in four out of ten schools in Toronto. And nearly three-quarters of principals and vice principals say they are finding it increasingly difficult to manage student behavior, with many of them expressing concern about an increase in violence. 

The results of a recent survey conducted by the Toronto School Administrators’ Association (TSAA), which represents 1,000 principals and vice principals, are disturbing. The poll, conducted in January (56% of TSAA members responded), found that 74% of respondents reported difficulties “managing student behavior after the pandemic”. And nearly 4 in 10 respondents (36%) also indicated that violence is on the rise at their school, “including fights, verbal abuse and, in some cases, gun possession”.

“The current situation in schools is approaching a veritable perfect storm, a fusion of factors that impact the day-to-day work school administrators do to promote a safe and healthy environment for all” says the report accompanying the findings of the survey (you can download and read the whole report here: TSAA-Report-School-Leadership-Within-A-Changing-Landscape-March-8-2023-1).

“Some administrators have indicated that nearly 90% of their days are spent dealing with student behavior issues. At the same time, administrators note that parental support in coping with severe behavior problems has sometimes led to parental and/or community member harassment, with 40 percent of respondents indicating a lack of support when addressing serious behavior problems. it deals with confrontational interactions with parents and workplace harassment”.

There has been a spate of violent incidents in and around a number of Toronto and GTA schools in recent months, including several shootings and stabbings. Some of the more alarming incidents include the shooting that left a teenager dead outside Woburn Collegiate Institute last October, another shooting in the parking lot of Weston Collegiate Institute in February that seriously injured a boy, and the stabbing of a young man just three weeks ago outside Sandalwood Heights Secondary School in Brampton.

The survey conducted on behalf of the TSAA found that nearly 90 percent of respondents (89 percent) feel “ill equipped” to maintain school safety with their current resources. And nearly half of respondents (47%) said board members and superintendents “have not been responsive in terms of providing physical resources and staffing to address school safety issues”.

School administrators have also expressed concern about the safety equipment in their schools, given the increase in violence. In fact, only about a third of respondents (34%) indicated that their schools have working security cameras, while the remaining 66% noted problems with existing cameras, a lack of cameras where needed, or no cameras at all. Approximately 28% of respondents also stated that there were even problems with the external doors, some of which do not close properly.

“Members note that they try to be effective facility managers, request improvements, but often encounter delays, backlogs or lack of funds” the TSAA says in its report. And all this despite the escalation of episodes of violence.

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