Educational institutions contribute heavily to the upbringing of children and have a major impact on their views. School-aged youth spend most of their time at school, and their experience at school is highly correlated with their mental health. Mental health policies and programs in schools have come under scrutiny recently due to growing trends of youth suicide. The blame has fallen on schools and school boards, typically due to lack of resources. For example, in the Toronto District School Board, each board-employed social worker may be assigned to 4 or 5 separate schools. Major policy changes need to be made to ensure that students feel safe at school and have health resources at their disposal.
On a broad scale, Canadian teachers are under-supported and are often unprepared to educate students with disabilities or special needs. Although they may be given an Educational Assistant (EA), the training provided to EAs is minimal and not specific to the child they will be working with. For example, a student with autism may have different needs from a student with Downs Syndrome. Providing training and ongoing learning opportunities for teachers and EAs would reduce the stress levels of teachers and set them up for success.
About this Series:
This blog series was written collectively by youth co-researchers in the Voices against Violence Western Group, which met during the winter of 2014. Working together over a period of 12 weeks, these youth identified salient themes in their shared experiences, as well as how these themes intersected each other in instances of structural violence or resistance against it. Education is third in this series.