Wednesday, March 29, 2023

We have a responsibility to protect the children and staff in our schools

For several months now, the media have reported stories of violence in and around schools that have sent shivers down our spines. Fights have always existed in schools, but their intensity is incomprehensible;

  • The teenager was hit with a hammer;
  • The teacher is transported by ambulance, his face bloodied by the persecutor…literary literary!
  • Earlier that year, two teenagers, Jannai Dopwell-Bailey and Lucas Gaudet, were stabbed and killed on the school campus. They were both 16 years old and had lives ahead of them.
  • I made 72 access to information requests to school service centers. The answers received confirm the fears: there is a noticeable increase in violence. In some places, the numbers go from single to double, and even triple, compared to the pre-pandemic period. Added to these figures was violence against school staff. The Journal de Québec revealed that the number of amendments to the CNESST exploded between 2020 and 2021, going from 544 to 911.

    What are the causes of this violence?

    Shall we spread? Separation? Video games? With no clear answers, I asked that a parliamentary committee look into these terrible issues. On February 23, the representatives of the CAQ rejected my request.

    How does the government explain that this important issue is not on the list of priorities of the Minister of Education?

    What is it that, as a member of parliament, I have to request through access to information in order to obtain such information?

    How do we understand that there is no common definition of “violence” and the data, when available, is of variable geometry and composed in such a disparate manner?

    Every day more than a million children are in our schools. Thousands of gym members get up early every year to work in our schools. We must protect them and provide an environment free of violence.

    Terrible examples

    If the numbers don’t speak to you, will the models speak to you?

    In 2021, a young man asks a friend to bring his parents’ firearm. He has a list of people to kill…

    In 2022, we find a homemade knife in the backpack of a student who explains to defend himself…

    Even in 2022, the student has taken down his pants, the suspect takes him from behind as if to penetrate him and almost touches him while someone else films the scene with his cellphone…

    The examples mentioned above are not fictitious. They all took place in schools in Monterégie.

    Mr. Minister, if you are still not convinced, please know that I will also have access to information requests for police forces. I am starting to get answers.

    In Gatineau, police intervened 121 times in 2018-2019 for threats, simple assault, assault or assault with a weapon. In 2022, this figure increased to 189 interventions.

    In Estrie, Memphremagog Police visited schools 69 times in 2019. In 2022, the number of interventions increases to 116. The police officers also took one of the many visits to arrest… a truncheon!

    What do we expect to do?

    We all know that a child cannot learn fast. I tell you that no child can learn with fear in his stomach!

    Mr. Drainville, the power in our schools depends on the issue. And in order to be fully aware, by developing appropriate solutions, a parliamentary commission is urgent and necessary. I extend my hand to you. The education network reaches out to you. Do you accept?

    Marwah Rizqy, MP for Saint-Laurent for the Liberal Party of Quebec

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