Armed attacks in educational establishments (schools, CEGEPs or universities), as counted by the police, were on the rise in 2022 in Montreal and Laval, but down in Longueuil. But beyond the 127 cases of armed violence recorded by police officers in the greater metropolitan area, what is striking on the ground is the feeling of insecurity among young people.
The Press asked the police services of Montreal, Laval and Longueuil for their data on armed assaults in 2022 in schools in their territory. The Montreal Police Service (like that of Laval) was only able to provide statistics covering all levels of education, from primary to university.
The SPVM therefore responded that it had counted 80 armed and/or serious assaults having taken place in 2022 in an educational establishment (64 cases during supervised hours and 16, during unsupervised hours.)
Since 2013, this is the highest figure, with cases ranging over the last few years between 44 and 66.
With its 27 cases recorded, the Laval Police Department also recorded an increase, whereas there were only between 12 and 15 of these cases annually since 2019.
Conversely, the Longueuil police officers recorded a drop in these files (20 in 2022, compared to 36 the previous year).
And throughout Quebec? A request for access to information from the Sûreté du Québec, received in March, shows that over the previous five years, across the province, the Sûreté du Québec listed a total of 516 cases “involving a situation of armed violence in primary and secondary schools”.
As the annual data has not been sent, it is not possible to see the evolution of cases.
The vicious circle of weapons
Regarding weapons found in primary and secondary schools, the figures from the Sûreté du Québec are disturbing in that in 2021-2022, 28 rifles or shotguns (457 mm-660 mm) were seized in schools by the Sûreté du Québec (compared to 13 in 2018-2019). Furthermore, 28 knives were also seized in 2021-2022, compared to 13 in 2018-2019.
The violent stabbing attack against two 3rd grade studentse secondary school at Félix-Leclerc secondary school, in Repentigny, made an impression at the start of the school year.
But as for the Saint-Michel district, Marjorie Villefranche, director of the Maison d’Haïti which is a flagship organization in the district, has the feeling that the level of violence among young people has not really changed. “In the parks, we did lots of activities this summer, including some with technological devices – tablets, for example – with bikes or skateboards. And everything went well. Those who are used to fighting have fought, but nothing unusual. »
What Mme Villefranche notes that the difference, on the other hand, is the feeling of insecurity among young people.
Young people have more fears, they are more suspicious of other young people, they fear for their safety. Since the pandemic, the fashion is to have a weapon. They say it’s for protection.
Marjorie Villefranche, director of Maison d’Haïti
What do you tell them? “That when they come to the Maison d’Haïti, they are not allowed to have one with them. Then, we discuss with them, we appeal to their intelligence. »
The work of Steve Bissonnette, professor in the education department of TELUQ and specialist in intervention in schools, brings him to be at the bedside of educational establishments which request his expertise in improving behavior in school.
On the ground, in primary and secondary schools across Quebec, Mr. Bissonnette says he observes that the 2020-2021 school year “was the most difficult”.
He feels that it is a little less tense, but that the pandemic continues to have the effect that many people’s fuse is very short, “both students and school staff”.
The fact remains that before the pandemic as now, verbal violence remains much more widespread than physical violence, he specifies.
It is very difficult to adequately measure violence and its evolution. The current portrait of violence, from his observer’s point of view, does not seem catastrophic.
Nevertheless, he says, not a week goes by without a school asking him for his expertise, even though he does “neither advertising nor conferences”.