Ontario To Make Schools Even Safer
McGuinty Government To Introduce Mandatory Reporting Legislation In 2009
A new report about school safety will help guide and strengthen requirements for staff to report serious incidents.
New legislation to be introduced this spring will, if passed, make reporting serious incidents, including assaults, to the principal mandatory. This follows the release of the new Safe Schools Action Team report, Shaping a Culture of Respect in Our Schools: Promoting Safe and Healthy Relationships.
The report also calls for action to address serious issues like gender-based violence, homophobia, sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behaviour between students in schools. The Ontario government asked the Safe Schools Action Team in February to examine these issues. Its report summarizes the team's findings and recommends areas for action.
The government will provide a comprehensive response over time that builds on its safe schools strategy. In addition to the proposed legislation, it will be:
- Providing further support to school staff to respond and take action to stop any further school incidents
- Improving requirements for timely and ongoing communication between schools and parents of both victims and perpetrators
- Working with education partners to revise the curriculum to ensure gender-based violence, homophobia, sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behaviour are discussed in the classroom
- Developing a manual to help staff respond to incidents of sexual assault
- Expanding the school climate surveys to help schools assess perceptions of safety.
- The Safe Schools Action Team consulted over 200 people in the development of this report.
- Bullying and harassment can affect a student's health, mental well-being and school success, according to a 2008 study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
- Sexual harassment and gender-based violence disproportionately affect female students, including those for whom race, class, sexual minority status or disability are a factor (page 6 of the report).
- Every Ontario school board must have a Code of Conduct to foster respect and inclusion in schools.
“Ensuring the safety of our students is a key priority for our government. This report will guide our further actions to help make our schools even safer.”
“I want to thank everyone who contributed during the consultation process, in particular those students who provided the action team with their valuable advice. I am confident that the actions we recommended will help to foster positive and safe learning environments in our schools.”