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We have recently seen the news reports that the Toronto Police have arrested and charged a multiple number of underage students who were enrolled at St Michaelís College for the alleged criminal sexual assaults of their classmates.

The school is a Catholic, private, prestigious, very expensive all boysí school in Toronto with a Board of Directors made up of primarily of Basilian priests. The tuition fees for 2018/19 for secondary school students-$45,050. The Ontario College of Teachers requires that all of its members to report the suspected sexual abuse or neglect of students. The Principal, Greg Reeves, did not take the time to inform the police or the Childrenís Aid Society of his concerns. Reed chose to wait two days for the police to come to the college to interview him regarding the suspected sexual assault of one of his students.

The alleged perpetrators were expelled forthwith with no school counselling provided by the college to help the students and their families to deal with the awful stigma.

I still remember the parentís of a Northdale Central Public Elementary student in Dorchester, Ont. who asked me to see their grade eight son for counselling. "Andrew" didnít relate to his family or seem to have any friends. Instead of going out for recess/ lunch he chose to help the teachers with their computer/audio presentations.

He told me that: "He wanted to disappear under a very large rock: he didnít want to die but he wanted the bulling to stop". I went to meet with the Principal with his mom and dad. The next day Andrew was told that he had to go out in the school yard for recess. The Principal and I watched out the window to see two of the toughs who hassled a very scared young boy.

The OPP were called and met with the parents and students that were involved. Counselling was provided by the Thames Board of Education for the abusers to help them understand/ change their behaviour.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health released the results of a survey that shows that one quarter of Ontario students in Grades 7-12 have reported being bullied at school. This represented approximately 225,000 students in the province whose peers have made their lives a living hell. More males than females reported being bullied.

When I was at Saunderís Secondary School we mourned the death of "Brendan" a 15 year old Chippewa of the Thameís student. He was constantly bullied on the very long bus ride to school every day by some of his classmates. Rather then confront those who ridiculed him Brendan instead chose to take his own life. Death is like unto a silent cry for help to end the pain.

Why would a young student commit suicide? My many years of counselling young people has taught me that our youth can too often find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place with no place to hide.

The victims often feel that no one can help them. Keeping the pain to yourself and not retaliating is the norm; Hopefully, the Perpetrators will find someone else to pick on. The internet chat line allows the slurs/abuses to follow long after the end of the school day when the teenagers return home to check their e mails.

Good marks and a boy singing in the Amabile Choir can earn praise from parents and teachers but it doesnít always impress their classmates. Hard to be accepted by the "jocks" if you donít play hockey or football. Being appreciated/liked by your classmates is paramount to most teenagers.

There are warnings indicators for parents/teachers that flash if you know the signs. Young children who are victimized may complain of headaches and stomach aches especially in the morning before school. They tell their parents that; "I do not feel well" and opt to stay home rather then face the daily hassles at school. The teens tend to isolate themselves in their bed rooms to watch television.

The Thames Valley School Board has a zero tolerance policy towards bulling. "Verbal/physical demeaning of students must be investigated and dealt with forthwith by the principal. Schools have to offer everyone a safe place to study and grow without the fear of harassment".

We can not afford to lose another student to suicide because of bulling.

Len Lesser is an education/career counsellor in Dorchester, Ont.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com