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SHELDON MacLEOD: My frightening first-hand view of school violence | #hacking | #aihp

You know that feeling when you learn a new word and you start hearing it everywhere? Or maybe you buy a red car and then you notice how many other red cars there are just like yours? 

Well, this is nothing like that. 

It has to do with violence in schools and I had first-hand experience with it late last week. And it happened just days after the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union said 87 per cent of N.S. teachers and educational specialists believe that school violence has increased since 2018. 

Here’s what happened on Friday afternoon.

My kids have been out of public school for years and early that morning, I headed to my mechanics to get an oil change, and driving past the elementary and middle school in our community, I noticed all the cars parked along the road and on the school grounds. When I got home, I looked it up and found it was an in-service day and they must have been holding an event at Hebbville Academy, based on all the people who were there. That was around eight that morning. 

Later that afternoon, I had gone into town to get a few groceries for taco night, and my journey back home took me past the school again. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed the signage in school zones in Nova Scotia, but they say the speed limit is reduced when kids are present. Not during school hours or even on school days, but that you need to slow down when you see kids on the school grounds. 

And Friday afternoon around 5:30, I noticed kids out front of the school and as I was slowing down, I saw one kid on top of another kid on the ground, flailing away and punching him. Repeatedly. And hard.

I honked my horn as I came to a stop and the kid on top, along with a crowd of about six or so others all looked up and he went back to work on the other kid. By then, I was kind of invested. I pulled into the school parking lot, stopped my car and jumped out.

Later that evening, I thought of all the things that could have gone wrong, but in the moment, I was about to intervene in someone else’s fight that I had not been invited to. Lucky for me that they complied and broke it up and the guy on the ground got up.

And that’s when they started accusing the guy taking a beating of pulling out a knife —  and yes, I did see what appeared to be the outline of a knife in one of the other scrapper’s hoodie pocket. These weren’t elementary school-age people — I’d say they were in high school — but clearly, the biggest of the kids had started walking away as soon as I’d gotten out of my car. 

I don’t really know exactly what had prompted the fight and it wasn’t even really a fight — it was a beating. However, the one who took the worst of it had apparently called the other fella on and they were meeting there to settle whatever score they seemed in need of accounting for. 

Other than a split lip and a few contusions, I think the two of them will survive. But again, knowing that they showed up with weapons seems a bit problematic: it clearly could have escalated, and I would have unknowingly stepped in the middle of a knife fight. 

Stupid on my part, but I just couldn’t believe what I’d witnessed.  

According to the province, there were 13,776 incidents of physical violence in public schools last year and that survey says 92 per cent of teachers have witnessed violence first-hand. Something needs to be done to address this. 

What exactly? I wish I had the answer. 

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