Pubdate: Tue, 24 Feb 2015
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 The Hamilton Spectator
Note: Viewpoint: Winnipeg Free Press (excerpt)
Page: A10


The strip search of a Quebec teen at her school for drugs, by school 
staff, is an unjustified breach of her privacy and assault on her 
dignity. If school officials can defend such a move to root out a bit 
of marijuana, searches of body cavities can't be far behind.

School boards in Manitoba and elsewhere in Canada ought to take this 
example of abuse of authority as a lesson in the perils of unchecked 
arrogance. The stripping of the teen was initially defended by 
Quebec's government, but now it appears it, too, has recognized the 
offensive nature of the search.

There may be an extreme case in which a strip search is required to 
protect other students, but this one was far from it. The 15-year-old 
sent a text to a friend offering to sell drugs - something she said was a joke.

She was taken to an office and ordered to disrobe behind a blanket 
held by one female staff member while another searched her garments, 
including bra and underwear, for marijuana. No pot was found.

Drugs on school property are a problem, generally, but as drugs go, 
pot is the least of the worries. There were other, more reasonable, 
ways to deal with the issue. School officials might have called her 
parents, told her to empty her pockets, her locker and her backpack.

School officials have the ability to send a student home for a day if 
they are still uncertain as to a teen's involvement in alleged 
misconduct. They can call police for serious misconduct.

The Supreme Court has ruled school officials can search students if 
they have reasonable grounds to believe rules have been broken. This 
is to protect students, to keep order and discipline so the school is 
a safe place conducive to learning. That decision, however, was about 
a principal searching two students, not stripping them.

The Quebec City incident shows that for some, young people are too 
easy a mark. There is a risk of a creeping authoritarianism as the 
right of students to privacy, especially of their person, is chipped 
away by an overriding concern for safety, discipline and order.
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