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Bullying still a ‘systemic’ issue at St. Michael’s College School: report

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St. Michael's College

TORONTO — Bullying continues to be a “systemic” issue at a private Toronto school rocked by allegations of sexual assault despite measures introduced in the wake of the scandal, says a report that examined culture at the all-boys Catholic institution.

The report released Thursday from an independent committee found no significant change in rates of student bullying and victimization at St. Michael’s College School, where seven students were charged last fall in connection with alleged incidents that took place on campus.

“Bullying and other demeaning behaviour do represent a systemic issue at the school, albeit in numbers comparable to the experiences of children of similar age across the country,” the committee wrote. “We can do so much better.”

The school made headlines in November as police investigated an alleged sexual assault recorded on video and shared on social media. Investigators eventually laid charges in two alleged sexual assaults and one assault, all involving one of the institution’s football teams.

The scandal triggered a national conversation on bullying and how it is dealt with in schools. St Michael’s tasked the committee with the review shortly after.

“There are two realities at Saint Michael’s College School. For many students, past and current, the school has represented the very best in schooling,” the committee wrote. “For others, the school failed to ensure that they felt safe and secure or fully included.”

The sweeping 123-page report — titled “A Time for Renewal” — offered 36 recommendations, including developing a comprehensive strategy to address bullying and robust staff training to deal with the issue.

The school said it is committed to adopting the recommendations.

“We are deeply concerned that bullying is a systemic issue,” school president Rev. Andrew Leung said in a statement. “Our goal remains unwavering — to ensure the safety and well-being of our students.”

The committee found bullying is a school-wide problem. That conclusion was supported by the findings from surveys of current students, alumni, staff, former staff and parents.

Those found that 206 boys — about one in five students — reported they had been bullied during their time at school.

“It hasn’t really changed,” one student wrote.

“Fix this bullying issue now and stop being neglectful and lazy,” another wrote.

Surveys found the number of students who reported witnessing bullying went down from last fall to this spring, the committee said, suggesting bullying may have become more covert.

Of those who were bullied, 70 boys said the bullying lasted a year or longer. Fifty-four boys reported being “sexually bullied.”

The committee also found 88 students “reported that they had been bullied because of their race or religion.” And three out of four bullied boys reported subsequent mental health issues that included anger, sadness, difficulties at school, and feeling helpless.

“This chronic bullying may be explained by the school’s inability to fully identify and effectively address bullying,” the committee said.

While bullying was clearly a problem, the committee found hazing was not an issue, although it did exist. The committee said it wanted the school to stamp out mild forms of initiation because it is demeaning.

The committee recommended the school write or rewrite a number of policies, codes of conduct and student handbooks that can be easily accessed by students, teachers, coaches and parents.

It also recommended the school hire more women as teachers, staff and in leadership roles.

“In the context of an all-boys school — especially where hyper or toxic masculinity has been identified as an issue to be mindful of, female teachers and administrators provide much needed perspective,” it wrote.

Seven students were eventually charged last fall with offences that included sexual assault with a weapon, gang sexual assault and assault for three incidents involving members of one of the school’s football teams. The charges against one have since been dropped.

Two police sources have said one of the alleged incidents involved a group of students on a football team pinning down another student and allegedly sexually assaulting him with a broom handle.

The report offered further details on what allegedly happened.

It said the school received a video on Nov. 12 that “appeared to show a sexual assault involving a group of boys.” Around noon the next day, staff identified those in the video as students at the school. On Nov. 14, the school told police about the alleged sex assault.

The committee said the school should have reported criminal allegations to police as soon as it became aware of them, rather than wait 36 hours to allow the alleged victim to discuss the issue with his mother who was out of town. It suggested the school develop protocols with police on how to deal with alleged criminal acts.

The report also said an alleged assault on Sept. 18 involved students allegedly “striking a student on the buttocks with a broom stick.”

Four of the students charged were expelled, while the other three withdrew from the school in the wake of the allegations that came to light. Four other students were also expelled.

The school’s top two administrators also resigned and several sports teams’ seasons were cancelled.

Liam Casey , The Canadian Press

Ag Business

With the world’s population soaring to 10 billion people, Robert Saik explores how farmers “might” be able to feed everyone

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Earth’s population will be close to 10 billion people by 2050.  So consider this line from Robert Saik’s “FOOD 5.0″…

“In order to feed the world, we have to grow 10,000 years’ worth of food in the next 30 years, which means farmers worldwide must increase their food production by 60 to 70%.”

If that doesn’t wake you up… probably nothing can.  How will farmers do it?  Even with today’s technology this it going to take an overwhelming international effort to avoid a mass-starvation.

His first book, “The Agriculture Manifesto – Ten Key Drivers That Will Shape Agriculture in the Next Decade” was a 2014 Best of Amazon Books and this TEDx Talk “Will Agriculture be Allowed to Feed 9 Billion People?” has been viewed over 150,000 times.

In a time where more and more people (in the first world) are demanding to know where their food is coming from and how food is being produced, “FOOD 5.0 How We Feed The Future” should be required reading.

Robert Saik in the Author Hour Podcast:

“Food 5.0, How We Feed the Future was written for an urban audience, more so than a farming audience. My mental image of who I wrote the book for was a 33-year-old mom in a city with some kids who is working and raising her kids.”

“We live in a time now where all the technologies are smashing together–they are converging on the farm to reshape the farm in ways that urban people just simply do not understand. It is happening at a breakneck pace and farms are far more sophisticated, far more advanced than people realize.”

” you’re going to realize and learn a lot about food production and a lot about marketing.”

In FOOD 5.0 How We Feed The Future, Robert Saik examines “how technology convergence is reshaping the farm and the consumer”.

Robert has been hailed as an agriculture futurist with unparalleled insight into where the industry is headed.  He’s worked with a variety of agriculturalists from Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture to Bill Gates.

He is the CEO of DOT Farm Solutions, which supports farmers adopting autonomous robotics in broad acre agriculture.  He’s also the founder of AG Viser Pro, a platform that Uber-izes knowledge and wisdom, enabling farmers to instantaneously connect with agriculture experts worldwide.

Robert is a passionate keynote speaker and is executive producer of the Know Ideas Media a science based multi-media company addressing issues such as GMO’s and their use in food production.  (Know Ideas Media is a partner in Todayville.com/Agriculture)

He serves on several Boards, is an advisor to Olds College, is a member of the A100 (Alberta Tech Entrepreneur Network), a student of Strategic Coach and Singularity University and a member of Abundance 360.  As a partner in Perigro Venture Partners he participates in early stage technology investments.

He been recognized for agriculture leadership by the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (Provincial Distinguished Agrologist of the Year) and in 2016 was awarded Canadian Agri-Marketer of the Year by the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association.

Here’s a story produced by Todayville on Robert’s visit to Seattle to brief Bill Gates.

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