Toronto

Emotional health of students on the decline, TDSB census shows

New data from Canada's largest school board indicates its students' emotional and physical health has declined over the last five years.

More teens say they feel stressed and are having trouble connecting with teachers and peers, data finds

The TDSB's director of education, John Malloy, says he realizes the 2012 census was more positive than the one in 2017. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

New data from Canada's largest school board indicates its students' emotional and physical health has declined over the last five years.

More than 200,000 people responded to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) census that asks students, as well as parents, to score everything from quality of education to support to emotional wellbeing.

Since 2012, students between Grades 7-12 reported that their emotional wellbeing dropped nearly 10 per cent, from 69 to 60 per cent in 2017.

Grade 12 student Karim Ouazzani Touhami says that decline is something he can understand since he's often juggling responsibilities. He plays on Jarvis Collegiate's soccer team, is the student council president and is taking a full course load. 

Students feel overwhelmed by expectations

"When I have three tests in one day, it can be too much, it can be overwhelming," said Ouazzani Touhami.

The TDSB's director of education, John Malloy, says he realizes the results of this census are lower than in 2012, so schools now need to do more to manage anxiety.

"How much are we asking at the same time?" said Malloy.

"Departments need to talk about [and space out] when major tests and assignments are due."

Malloy says census results from the board's 583 schools varied, and it's now up to teachers and staff to work together with students to tackle each school's specific challenges.

The results of the TDSB's third such census were presented at Jarvis Collegiate. Principal Michael Harvey says he was pleased with his school's results, but said more can be done to address the school's diverse makeup.

Chart from the TDSB 2017 census shows the decline in emotional well-being since 2012. (TDSB)

"About 30 per cent of students really believed that we need to start incorporating some of those cultural and racial background issues into the classroom," said Harvey.

Other overall results showed that students from Grade 7 to Grade 12 reported less regular physical activity than their counterparts in the 2012 survey.

Kids also reported spending more time on social media as they got older, with girls in Grades 9 to 12  saying they use the online platforms more than boys in the same age group.

Malloy says he realizes that an increase in social media and a decrease in physical activity could affect overall well being. He says his board isn't going to ban online platforms inside schools, but staff is going to continue to talk to parents and students to come up with better solutions.

With files from The Canadian Press

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