In Harm’s Way

I think that it was probably at the Faculty of Education that this reality first kicked in.

Going through high school, I was in the “Five Year Program”. We were all academic oriented with eyes on post secondary education. We held our teachers in admiration since they had gone through the system and won. We were on our way.

It wasn’t like violence wasn’t completely foreign to us. I recall times in elementary school that I would end up in fist fights with a fellow and I can’t even recall the reasons now. Later, we turned out to be best of friends and still run across each other to this day.

At University, and later at the Faculty of Education, my circle of friends were largely academically minded and worked so hard at it. I don’t recall ever addressing school violence at the Faculty but the reality of it kicked in during the practice teaching outings. In addition to being placed in my teachable, my associate teachers had a number of other teaching assignments that took me all over the map.

It was being all over the map that truly reinforced that not everyone was there for the academics. The standard joke was that school was essentially a place to stay warm between suspensions. There were, indeed, a couple of moments while out on a placement where my associate and I ended up in the middle of an altercation. I don’t recall it being student against teacher but largely student against student. That didn’t necessarily make it right but was something that seemed kind of easy to understand.

Also being understood throughout this was the hierarchy of those who were not students in the system. Along with differences in salary and hierarchy status, there were those who were treated worse than others. That didn’t make sense; naively, I guess, I thought that we would all be partners in the education of students.

This morning, I spent time reading a very sobering report from Chris Bruckert, Darcy Santor and Brittany Mario from the University of Ottawa.

The research report called “In Harms Way” has its key finding posted at the top of the document. I’ll be honest; it’s not an easy report to read. Especially when you start with

89% percent of participants reported at least one act, attempt, or threat of physical force from one or more sources (i.e., students, parents, colleagues, administrators) during the 2018-2019 school year

From: IN HARM’S WAY: THE EPIDEMIC OF VIOLENCE AGAINST EDUCATION SECTOR WORKERS IN ONTARIO, November, 2021.

It’s not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination but I think it’s an important one for educators – it’s not from somewhere else, it’s from Ontario.

You can access a summary here and the report here.

A bit of a warning, I guess – even though it’s based on true research, it’s not an easy or comfortable read.

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