Hard les­sons learned

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION -

What are the les­sons to be learned from the on­go­ing rev­e­la­tions of sex­ual as­sault, as­saults and vi­o­lent bul­ly­ing at St. Michael’s Col­lege School in Toronto?

First, that when ev­i­dence of a crime or crimes of this se­ri­ous­ness is dis­cov­ered, the po­lice must be no­ti­fied im­me­di­ately by the school.

De­lay­ing the in­volve­ment of the po­lice, even if the mo­tive was well-in­ten­tioned — St. Mike’s now-for­mer prin­ci­pal Greg Reeves said he wanted to give the stu­dent who en­dured the worst abuse time to tell his par­ents — was a mis­take.

Given the cir­cum­stances, it’s not sur­pris­ing Reeves re­signed Thurs­day along with St. Mike’s board pres­i­dent Rev. Jef­fer­son Thomp­son. That should be a warn­ing to all ed­u­ca­tors in the pri­vate and pub­lic school sys­tems that they have an obli­ga­tion to im­me­di­ately re­port sus­pected abuse of this mag­ni­tude to the au­thor­i­ties.

Sec­ond, ed­u­ca­tors must al­ways be alert and aware of the pos­si­bil­ity of stu­dent vi­o­lence against other stu­dents.

The se­ri­ous­ness and num­ber of as­saults Toronto po­lice are now in­ves­ti­gat­ing at

St. Mike’s, as well as emerg­ing sto­ries of bul­ly­ing go­ing back decades, sug­gest there is a cul­ture of vi­o­lence at the all-boys school.

If the school’s staff weren’t aware of it, why not? If they were, why didn’t they act be­fore now?

Third, it would be fool­ish to think this is hap­pen­ing only at St. Mike’s, or only at pri­vate schools, or only at all-boys schools.

Stu­dent-on-stu­dent vi­o­lence has been a long­stand­ing prob­lem in the pub­lic school sys­tem as well.

Two in­de­pen­dent re­views of the Toronto District school board’s poli­cies fol­low­ing the 2007 fa­tal shoot­ing of 15-year-old Jor­dan Man­ners in­side C. W. Jef­ferys Col­le­giate In­sti­tute, cited a cul­ture of fear and si­lence in schools when it came to re­port­ing vi­o­lence.

In­cred­i­bly, teach­ers ac­tu­ally feared ca­reer de­rail­ment if they re­ported it to se­nior school staff and board ad­min­is­tra­tors, who were re­luc­tant to lis­ten or act.

Alarm­ingly, af­ter all this time, ed­u­ca­tors still need to be re­minded about their duty to im­me­di­ately re­port school vi­o­lence and bul­ly­ing to their su­pe­ri­ors, and from there to the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties.

Af­ter so many years of sto­ries like this at so many schools, you would think it wouldn’t be nec­es­sary to re­peat these warn­ings.

But ap­par­ently, it is be­cause the mes­sage keeps get­ting lost.

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