Social Issues: Getting to the Heart of What Matters, by Cheryl Patterson

Strip Searches in School: Really OK?

Humiliating, traumatizing and unnecessary come to mind regarding the strip search of a 15-year old girl, by staff at her school in Quebec, Canada last week because she joked to a friend about bringing marijuana to school.

If the school had of left this situation up to professionals that know what they’re doing – the authorities – this girl probably would have never been strip searched. The authorities are trained in these situations and have the skills to determine what’s real or not.

“In the Quebec legislature, opposition politicians said they were dismayed that school staff would not have explicit instructions from their superiors to first call in law enforcement in cases where a serious breach of regulations or a potential crime is suspected,” (The Toronto Star, February 18, 2015).

This unnecessary and humiliating strip search can have a traumatizing effect on this girl, as it would many people. She’s already indicated that she felt “violated” to a Quebec newspaper (CTV News, February 17, 2015).

I would have definitely been affected by an experience like this as a young girl (or a middle-aged woman). It would be a hard thing to grasp and get over.

And as a mother, to imagine my daughter ever having to go through something like that…

Representative for the provincial riding of Chambly, Coalition Avenir Québec, Jean-François Roberge, indicates, ‘“I have a little girl and I’m asking myself if, when I send her to school, she’ll be strip searched ‘respectfully,’” (The Toronto Star, February 18, 2015).

Not only is this humiliating in-itself, this girl now has to cope with the embarrassment of facing the whole school population…kids staring at her, teasing and laughing, and the list of what else she’ll have to endure is endless.

Apparently, the school didn’t even have the decency to let her make a call to her mother before being strip searched.

Schools are trained in teaching, not strip searches. I’d like to know how the school staff would feel if after texting a joke they were ordered to remove their clothing…

And seeing as the Education Minister, Yves Bolduc, thinks it was ok to do, maybe he needs to be unnecessarily subjected to a strip search, and maybe he’ll think twice about how acceptable it is, and have some compassion for what it might be like for someone else – especially a child.

We’re not talking about hardened criminals here; we’re talking about our children.

This incident is a clear indicator about why schools should NOT be allowed to strip search children – they obviously don’t know what they’re doing.

However, Bolduc did raise an interesting point when he indicated that it wouldn’t be appropriate for police to do strip searches in schools, either (CTV News, February 17, 2015).

‘“It’s a very different level of invasion of privacy if you are forced to take off your clothes, especially as a 15-year-old girl,” Toronto criminal lawyer Boris Bytensky told CTV News,”’ (CTV News, February 17, 2015).

This is obviously a sensitive issue that requires more consideration than simply resorting to extreme measures like strip searches. “The country’s top court said that schools need to consider a host of factors, when deciding if a search is reasonable” (The Toronto Star, February 18, 2015).

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