Money needed for safety in schools

Lockers - school safety

The school safety report recommends sniffer dogs to search
lockers for guns.

Nadia Bello says she feels positive about Julian Falconer’s recent report on school safety, but it proves that school boards need more money.

The local trustee says despite the media’s focus on law and order issues contained in the report, there is more to it than that.

Bello is one of five trustees working on a response to Falconer’s report — called The Road to Health — and she says the recommendations are evidence the school board needs money for social support resources in schools.
She also believes there will be a major change in the way schools are administered.

“There’s been a large focus on the law and order recommendations, but I think there are so many other recommendations that are worth looking at,” Bello said. “For example, looking at sexual assaults and putting more resources into our schools.”

Falconer’s school safety report that followed the murder of a young man at a North York school, outlines 126 recommendations that address issues of sexual assault, gender-based violence, racism and gun violence.

Among the recommendations is that sniffer dogs be brought into schools in order to search for guns.

“Whenever people think of the canine units, they think of the big German shepherds, and that they’re really intimidating, and it’s just not that,” Bello said.

According to the report, “small, non-threatening, thirty-pound dogs” can do the job.

“For me, the most important thing is when somebody says we should have sniffer dogs in schools, the question is what happens when you find a gun or you find a knife,” Bello said. “What happens to that young person?”

Patricia Hodgins, principal of West Hill Collegiate, said money will be needed to implement these recommendations and that “these things take time.” But she also believes the report is a positive thing, and hopes to see more councillors and social workers in schools as a result.

At West Hill there are two hall monitors, but teachers also participate in supervision.

“Teachers do it out of the goodness of their hearts,” Hodgins said. “We have a very active, dynamic, and useful staff. I think it makes for a happy place to be.”

Bello concludes the most important thing in the report is the way it gave context to problems in schools. “What’s important is to look at the bigger system.”