Montreal

Aggressive incidents in Quebec schools on decline, study shows

Université Laval researcher Claire Beaumont said it’s possible the decrease in hostile acts is tied to a law passed in 2012 which required schools to come up with plans to address bullying.

Université Laval study looks at reported incidents over 4 years

In 2017, young people across Quebec reported having observed fewer instances of aggressive behaviour than in 2013. (Tom Woodward/Flickr Creative Commons)

The overall number of hostile incidents experienced by students in Quebec schools appears to be decreasing, a study by a Université Laval researchers concludes.

The study compared certain behaviours related to violence in elementary and secondary schools in the province in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Researchers spoke to 24,000 students at 84 schools.

In 2017, young people reported having observed fewer instances of aggressive behaviour than in 2013 and said they feel safer at school.

Elementary school students reported observing fewer verbal insults and threats, but an increase in the percentage of students who owned cellphones (from 61 per cent in 2013 to 79.4 per cent in 2017) corresponded to an increase in the percentage of students who reported receiving insults and threats via text messages (from 4.9 to 6.5 per cent).

At the high school level, there were fewer insults and threats regardless of the way they were conveyed.

Researcher Claire Beaumont said it's possible the decrease is tied to a law passed in 2012 which required schools to come up with plans to address bullying.

But she would not draw a causal link, saying those plans are not all the same and are not applied uniformly across the province.

So-called "risky" behaviours have also declined since 2013, according to the study: young people are observing less vandalism, drug and alcohol use.

Students also reported feeling safer on school grounds and in their neighbourhoods.

With files from Radio-Canada