Quebec lawmakers push bill to combat sexual violence in schools
MONTREAL -- A new bill tabled in Quebec in recent days aims to combat sexual violence in the province’s schools.
“School needs to be a safe place for students, they need to be able to confide in [their educators] and get help quickly,” says Christine Labrie, Quebec Solidaire’s education critic.
If passed, the bill would force schools at all levels, in both the public and private systems, to adopt a policy to combat sexual violence.
"More than half of the victims of sexual offenses recorded by the police are minors," said Labrie at a Montreal press conference Sunday.
“School is sometimes the only safe place a victim goes to," she said. "The forms of sexual violence that young people can experience are numerous: sexual abuse at home, intimate photos shared by classmates, violence linked to sexuality or identity, etcetera. School workers must be better equipped."
On top of forcing schools to adopt sexual-violence policies, Quebec Solidaire called for more training for school staff so they can intervene when a child is at risk.
"It is a necessity that all our schools adopt such a policy," said party spokesperson Manon Masse. "In 2017, when there was the whole movement of denunciations, especially at Laval University, young people spoke up."
That year, police investigated several reports of sexual assault from students following break-ins to university residences.
The government imposed rules on universities to adopts a sexual violence policy -- something Quebec Solidaire wants to apply to all levels of education.
"This is a need that is still very real," said Masse.
"A friend of mine who experienced sexual violence. I was a witness," said Theryanne-Marie Félix, a member of advocacy group "La Voix des jeunes compte" who accompanied Labrie at the Sunday conference.
"She was on a waiting list (to see a resource) and there was no follow-up."
-- This report by Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 24, 2021 with files from CTV's Luca Caruso-Moro.