Educational Accountability, Safety, and Youth
Young people who feel unsafe and disconnected from their neighbourhoods are most likely to engage in violent or unsafe actions, themselves (McMurtry & Curling, 2008). Students designated as ‘unsafe’ through Ontario’s Safe Schools legislation are pushed out of their neighbourhood schools through suspension, expulsion, and proactive relocation processes. In this way, Safe Schools and other institutional processes that are designed to mediate the unsafe behaviour of particular young people also serve to exclude these youth from their neighbourhoods and neighbourhood institutions, increasing the risk that the young person will engage in further violence. During our presentation, we will we describe a project that seeks to understand how young people’s transitions between programs and between systems (e.g., education and youth criminal justice) influence their own experiences of safety and unsafety and their connections to their neighbourhoods, to community-based organizations, and to mainstream institutions.
Research for this project is being conducted in collaboration with a community hub organization – Promoting Education and Community Health (PEACH). PEACH is located in a designated priority neighbourhood in Toronto. It houses a Safe and Caring Schools program for the Toronto and the Toronto Catholic District School Boards. The research – an institutional ethnography – documents and analyzes inter-institutional accountability processes, policy, and programming that shapes young people’s experiences of safety and unsafety in the neighbourhood. Focusing on young people’s transitions within and between institutional systems, we aim to generate findings that will be useful to researchers, practitioners, institutional leaders, and policy decision-makers interested in the integration of service delivery for marginalized or “at risk” youth.