Pubdate: Thu, 15 Nov 2012
Source: Abbotsford Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 The Abbotsford Times
Author: Rochelle Baker


Drugs Are Still the Primary Reason for Discipline

Abbotsford school suspensions are on a steady downward trend, 
according to a report presented to the board of education Tuesday night.

However, drugs continue to be the primary reason discipline is meted 
out to students, the data shows.

Total suspensions, both in and out of school, have declined by 30 per 
cent since 2007/08, said SD34 spokesman Dave Stephen.

A total of 1,253 students were suspended in the 2011/12 school year. 
Of that total, 727 students received out of school suspensions, which 
average between three to five days in length.

Overall suspensions are down from 1,488 in 2010/11 and 1,613 in 2009/10.

Drugs were the number one reason for out-of-school suspensions, with 
more than 160 students disciplined last year.

That number was a five-year high for the offence, which has resulted 
in 100-plus secondary students punished annually, with the exception of 2010.

"The issue has been a constant over the last four or five years," said Stephen.

"It's not something we're happy about, but perhaps it's not a 
surprise. It reflects students' access to drugs, and the issues that 
causes in society generally."

Defiance was second reason for suspension with 110 students punished, 
followed by fighting and bullying at 80 and 60 students, respectively.

The bulk of the suspensions, the larger number involving boys, took 
place in Grades 9 and 10, according to the report.

"I think you'll find that trend is the same in districts across the 
province," said Stephen.

"It's the age that young people start pushing boundaries and trying 
things that might put them at risk."

A combination of reasons at each school is behind the drop in 
suspensions, said Stephen, adding an alternate suspension program run 
by YMCA is also making difference.

However, each secondary school has a dedicated teacher dealing with 
high-risk students and supervising in-school suspensions.

"It's better to keep [students] in school in a supervised environment 
than sending them home or out into the community," said Stephen.
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