Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Violence in Schools

In the wake of yesterday's shooting at Bendale Technical Institute, many people in Toronto are weighing in on the issue of violence in schools. I used to work for the TDSB at a school not too far from Bendale (but with a great view of the lake). I have also worked at a school in a more violent neighbourhood, across from CW Jeffries, where Jordan Manners was killed. Any administrator will tell you that a school's utmost priority is the safety of its students. As teachers, we are given the responsibility of helping to maintain that priority (without endangering our own lives, of course.)

Many schools in the TDSB have uniformed police officers in the hallways who will be patrolling the schools but also will begin to get involved into school life as coaches and mentors. As time goes on, Toronto schools are slowly beginning to resemble schools south of the border where uniformed officers (and non-uniformed) and metal detectors are present.

The YRDSB has not yet encountered this magnitude of violence in its schools. That is not to say it is unlikely. Perhaps in a few years, it too will resort to different levels of security for its students. Currently, teachers and administrators "police" the schools. That is to say, we have "hall duty" or "cafeteria duty" etc. Do we take our walkie-talkies with us? Absolutely! We also stage code red drills where students practise "taking cover" to simulate a "lock down" situation for the school. We have video surveillance in the halls and outside the school. We have a great relationship with the police.

Precautions in place, can a school truly be safe? No, but we will continue to try!!

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