Francis Vachon Archives The Canadian Press Mr. Drainville made a commitment in March to testify on violence and bullying in schools, after the media coverage of several cases.
Starting next school year, Quebec students will take mandatory courses on violence and mental health issues, and schools will be required to document all cases of violence and bullying.
The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, unveiled his strategy on violence and bullying in schools on Friday. This is accompanied by an envelope of 30 million dollars over five years. The sums were already planned in the budget, specified the minister.
Mr. Drainville had made a commitment to table this plan last March, while several cases of violence in schools were in the media. In his tour of schools, he said he heard “a lot” about “anxiety, impatience, attitudes that are sometimes aggressive.”
“Sometimes it happens – too often for my taste – that I am told about parents who lack respect for school staff,” he also underlined. The minister recalled that “education begins at home.”
From the fall, therefore, primary school students will follow seven hours of compulsory courses “in order to develop their personal skills , social and emotional” exploring themes of violence and mental health. At the secondary level, nine hours of classes will be added to the program, under a ministerial directive on which Mr. Drainville is working.
“We will even start it at preschool,” said the minister.
He leaves it to schools to choose in which courses these concepts will be covered. Mr. Drainville believes that the teams in schools will emerge “winners” from this exercise. “Teachers and school staff, they experience a lot, a lot of violence. Far too much,” he lamented.
The Centrale des syndicats du Québec welcomed the minister's announcement, not without calling for the “necessary support and resources” to implement the actions.
A register of events violent
Under the Drainville plan, schools will have to “record the number of events of violence and intimidation” and transmit this information to the ministry. Since the adoption of a law by the Liberal government in 2012, plans to combat violence and bullying are mandatory in all schools.
However, “this plan, unfortunately, in certain cases, has accumulated a lot of dust,” lamented the minister.
Above all, school service centers use different templates and collect data with such disparate methods that they are “impossible” to use. Mr. Drainville, for example, declared that 69 of the 72 school service centers (CSS) had transmitted data on acts of violence in their annual reports. However, 24 of these 69 CSS sent unusable information, among other things because it was incomplete.
The portrait that emerges from this exercise does not appear reliable in the eyes of the minister. Among respondents, “92% of schools report fewer than 10 bullying events throughout the year,” he illustrated. “It could be, but I find it improbable. »
To provide a better picture of the situation, the ministry will send a “common and standardized” questionnaire to the CSS after the holidays. At the beginning of 2024, it will also organize a day of discussion, with opposition parties and community partners, on the subject of preventing and combating violence.
Minister Drainville's plan also provides that all school staff be trained to prevent and intervene in situations of violence and intimidation. The training will focus in particular on sexual violence, as provided for in the National Student Ombudsman Act.
An “emergency protocol in the event of major events of a violent nature” will also be compulsory in every educational establishment. Quebec will fund specialized intervention teams so that they can intervene in targeted environments based on the risk of violence, available resources and needs.
The “Renfort” line, set up in June by the City of Montreal to prevent armed violence, will be “enhanced so that all of Quebec can benefit.”