School suspensions climb for elementary school girls at Toronto Catholic board
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:09AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 28, 2016 12:35PM EDT
An increasing number of elementary school girls at the Toronto Catholic District School Board are getting suspended.
The most recent Safe Schools report presented to the Catholic board last week suggests that while overall suspensions have dropped over the past five years, suspensions among female elementary school students are on the rise.
According to the report, 196 elementary school girls were suspended in the 2015-2016 school year, up 38 from the previous year and 68 from the 2013-2014 school year.
The number of female elementary school students who received notices of suspension jumped to 262, up from 199 in 2014-2015, and the number of school days lost from suspensions among that group climbed to 411, up from 315 the year prior.
While the report does not disclose exactly why students are suspended, bullying is identified as an area that requires further dialogue.
Included in the report was a survey where students shared their insights into safety and the overall climate within their educational institution.
According to the report, more than 90 per cent of elementary students said they felt “very safe” or “safe” in the classroom however, 60 per cent of students reported that they had witnessed another student being bullied at school, a six per cent increase from the 2014-2015 school year.
“Verbal and social bullying continue to be areas of focus for both genders however, females reported experiencing and witnessing social and cyber bullying more so than males, whereas males had higher reports of experiencing and witnessing physical bullying,” the report read.
Speaking to CP24 Wednesday, Vincent Burzotta, the superintendent of education for the TCDSB, called the increase "a concern" but "not alarming" given that there are 60,000 students across the board.
"Obviously we need to listen to students more often to see what things are happening there. We do offer professional development for our teachers to try to get them to understand what to look for in certain behaviours. We know that girls, based on our data, will engage in exclusionary behaviours and will engage in more cyber-bullying than boys so we train our teachers what to look for in the classroom with respect to those individuals," Burzotta said.
"We need to just aggregate the data... I think in terms of our responsibility as a board, when we see a trend, we look at it closely and that is exactly what we are going to do in the coming weeks ahead."