“People Judge A Book by Its Cover.” On The Consistent Murders Occurring In Toronto Public High Schools By: Leviana Coccia
October 2006, a 14-year-old female student was sexually assaulted.
May 23, 2007, Jordan Manners, 15, killed by fatal shot to the chest.
May 17, two 17-year-olds were charged with first degree murder.
Sept 19, four male youths were charged with forcible confinement, gang sexual assault, and conspiracy.
January 6, 2008, former school principal and vice principals were charged with failing to report a sexual assault on a student.
The chronology of events that surpassed within the past two years at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate, just south of Finch Avenue, have put parents, students, and Toronto School Board Administration on edge.
As a response, columnists such as Rosie Dimanno—a writer for The Toronto Star—states “Maybe parents should check their kids’ knapsacks for guns, knives, baseball bats, and brass knuckles before the little darlings leave for school in the morning,” in an article entitled Where are parents of juvenile thugs?
Sure, parents should be aware of what their children are participating in, if you want to call it that. However, perhaps it is crucial to refrain from putting the blame on parents only. It is true that Charis Newtown-Thompson, Silvio Tallevi, and Stan Gordon—three men a part of the administrative team at Jefferys—were charged with failing to report a sexual assault on a student that attended their school. It is just as much the parents’ responsibility as it is the schools.
Parents trust the teachers and administrative teams that they leave their children with for over half a year, for the majority of their children’s youth. Whether they trust their children or not, that’s a different story. If administrative teams are failing to do their jobs properly and justly what good is a public school system?
Now, canine units are being considered in order to find weapons and drugs in pockets and lockers of students in the Jane and Finch area. Penalties are also being measured to sharpen reporting procedures in schools located in North York. As much as I agree with having security in schools, isn’t school supposed to be a safe place where students can learn and strive for their ambitions?
In every high school you could walk up to five students and have each one of them say they have tried, or know someone who has tried a type of drug. You could walk up to a different five students and have them tell you the kids in their school who they expect to be a threat to society. In every school there is the same problem. Whether the severity of the problem withers or not, it still needs to be monitored.
The good students should have a say in what goes on in their school. They are our future, remember? Yet, with some work, the troubled kids could be our future too. Samira Ali, a 15 year old at Jeffery says, “It’s different for people who live outside of the area. But it’s safe for us.” If the student feels safe and assures that they can be a normal student in their high school should they be believed or should the security be cranked up a notch?
“Knowing I have to come here, you don’t even want to wake up in the morning. We don’t get a fair chance. Be honest. If you saw me walking down the street. A tall black man in baggy jeans, you just assume I’m a bad guy. You’d be worried. And I’m not like that, but people treat me that way,” says 17 year old Ryan Williams who could be the doctor who finds the cure for cancer or even a great parent to his children in days to come. However, he has a point when he says “People judge a book by its cover.”