School Violence Prevention Policies in Canada
By Cho Jee-young, Overseas Correspondent
“Committing suicide because of school bullying? Oh, how could that happen to young students?” This was the first reaction of Canadian students when they heard the news that Korean students killed themselves because of school bullying. One girl said, “I have watched a Korean movie, and there were some scenes where boys extort money and attack weak students as a mob. It was brutal and cruel. Actually, at the time I could not understand the scenes which were definitely different from my school life.” They said that the school violence and bullying happens a lot in Canada but not as seriously as in Korea.
How have they been able to keep their schools peaceful? The Canadian students agreed with the idea that policies and rules for school violence prevention are very strict and punish assailant students who commit school violence ruthlessly. One student said that his school had a policy to open the information of the assailant students to the public, and another student said they would be expelled. The well-known school code in Canada is “Zero Tolerance.” One article of Stephen Jull from Mount Saint Vincent University discusses the definition of the policy: “In recent years, schools throughout Canada have begun adopting 'get-tough' school policies and codes of conduct based on the principles of so-called Zero Tolerance. The essence of Zero Tolerance is that the punishment of student misdemeanors should be rapid and inexorable.” The biggest difference between Korean and Canadian school policy is the degree of strictness. Canadian schools have handled assailant students with heartless and rigorous schemes.
Also, Canadian schools consider the school bullying problem as a community issue, not only their own. Stephen Jull shows this idea in his article: “In contemporary school settings managing youth violence… is understood to be an issue that extends beyond the boundaries of individual schools into whole communities. Consequently, school-based management plans for violence have crossed the threshold of the public domain, and as such may ultimately be scrutinized as documents of social policy.” The school violence problem does not impose responsibility on schools and Canadians think that the community should protect young students from bullying and violence.
Above these, Canadian schools have implemented mentor programs for assailant students to prevent their abusive behaviour and rebuild self-esteem. According to a survey conducted by Statistics Canada, 60% of respondents agreed with the efficiency of the mentor programs for school violence. At a time when many serious results of Korean school violence are being exposed, not only schools but the whole community should feel responsibility over the matter and prepare precautions by looking at the lessons of Canada.