The student protector to denounce sexual violence in schools

Quebec wants to strengthen the role of the student ombudsman so that it becomes the “direct gateway” to denouncing sexual violence in schools, changes that do not go far enough, however, according to a collective of young people.

• Read also – Sexual Violence: A Law in School Environment Demanded

Education Minister Jean-François Robberge tabled a series of amendments in a parliamentary committee Tuesday morning to give the new student ombudsman, whose role is being redefined by Bill 9, “greater power in preventing and combating sexual violence”.

“It is a very, very important step. We are showing that we can adapt,” said Minister Roberte.

Problem identified

In the parliamentary committee, the collective The voice of young people counts had denounced the lack of protocols to receive complaints of this kind and the lack of support for victims, which contributes to strengthening the omerta that exists in certain school settings .

The amendments tabled allow a student or member of school staff who wishes to report a sexual assault situation to directly contact the regional student ombudsman, a “neutral and fully independent” intervener, without first going through the school administration.

These changes come as TVA reported Monday that young people from a Montreal high school, who were allegedly sexually assaulted by a student, claim they received no help from their management, who instead asked them to be quiet. .

At Saint-Laurent high school, where three coaches have been charged with sexual offenses against two students, management’s omerta has also been denounced, recently reported. The press.

The changes presented on Tuesday also provide for a reinforcement of the protection mechanism against retaliation and a separate reporting of complaints about sexual violence.

Listen to Geneviève Pettersen’s interview with Mélanie Lemay, co-founder of the Quebec anti-sexual violence movement, on QUB radio:

The regional student ombudsman will also be responsible for overseeing the plan to combat bullying and violence in the institutions.

Quebec thus believes it is responding “largely” to the demands of a coalition that instead advocates a framework law to combat sexual violence in the school environment, such as the one regulating CEGEPs and universities.

One-piece solutions

The collective However, the voice of young people does not count. These changes make it possible to provide “piece-by-piece” solutions to certain problems, but do not solve the problem on the merits, confirms the coordinator, Mélanie Lemay.

“Saying we’re inviting people to give up isn’t enough to ensure a safe climate,” she says.

“We also don’t think about how we can recover the consequences of what they went through, we leave them in suspense in the face of an indictment. There is no corridor of services that will be integrated into the daily lives of young people,” laments Lemay.

For her part, Quebec Solidaire member Christine Labrie continues to demand a framework law rather than “minor changes confused”.

“How many scandals and then broken children will it take for the CAQ to pass a bill to prevent and deter sexual assault in our schools?” she launched on Tuesday during question time in the National Assembly.

Minister Jean-François Roberge has not closed the door to a framework law. “I don’t rule anything out. The goal is to have healthy and safe schools,” he told the Log.

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