Underfunding, the leading factor in the rise of violence in Ontario classrooms

By Matt Hutcheson

A group representing educators in Waterloo Region gathered last week to discuss the results of a survey on classroom violence.

It asked the region’s teachers and education assistants about their experiences, and the findings are concerning.

Over 1,100 educators responded and almost all, 99 per cent, said they had experienced violence in the classroom. More than half said they felt unsafe at school and over 70 per cent said they don’t believe children feel safe at school.

The survey was conducted by the unions that represent educators at both local school boards, which shows the issues are widespread.

The overwhelming takeaway was that chronic underfunding has forced school boards to eliminate many mechanisms to support kids with mental health or complex needs. The lack of those supports, along with the continuing effects of the pandemic has led to the situation the education system finds itself in.

“I know in our board, we’ve seen a lot of cuts in the last few years,” said Jeff Pelich, President of the Waterloo Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario, while speaking to The Mike Farwell Show.

“I think one of the biggest challenges that we face is that there is a lot of closing of the external resources that students had access to in the past. And we’ve heard about the long waitlists for support.” He added. “The services are no-longer available outside of school. And then we have students coming to school with unique challenges and then the services are cut within the school as well. It creates a perfect storm.”

Pelich believes the only way to truly address the rise in classroom violence is for the province to step-up and actually provide adequate funding to ensure every school has the proper supports in place.

He believes not only will that lead to improved outcomes for the students, it would address many of the issues leading to a lack of teachers. It would make the profession attractive option to post secondary students again.

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