Most teens rarely take part in sexual harassment, says prof

More than one-third of Canadian teens admit they sexually harass their peers from time to time, according to a recent study of 900 students in Grades 5 to 12 by bullying expert Debra Pepler of York University, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 16 following charges laid against 16 Toronto high school students for allegedly harassing a female for more than a year. “The good news is, that after seeing reports of such serious allegations of sexual harassment this week, the vast majority of young people – 60 per cent – said they rarely take part in this kind of behaviour,” said Pepler, a psychology professor in the Faculty of Arts. “But when harassment does occur, we need to help make students feel more welcome coming forward,” she said. “We need to be much more explicit with students about coming forward. We need to give victims much more support.”

Pepler’s study asked students how often they make sexual jokes, brush up against classmates in a sexual way, spread sexual rumours, show someone sexual pictures, send sexually charged messages, use homophobic insults, rate someone’s body or “flash” another student. While 60 per cent of students said they seldom if ever take part in such behaviour, 35 per cent admitted they do some of these things with “moderate” or occasional frequency, said Pepler. And three per cent admit they do it frequently.

Mayor tells Scarborough councillors to ‘temper’ subway demands

Scarborough city councillors are ready to rumble to win a new subway for their community – and they expect Mayor David Miller to show up in their corner, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 16. The issue threatens to pit two communities against each other, because building a Scarborough subway could make it tough for the TTC to finance the proposed extension of the Spadina subway line to York University at the same time. But Miller cautioned in an interview that the Scarborough councillors may have to temper their expectations. “Obviously, I’d love to replace the RT [Scarborough Rapid Transit] with a subway, but there is no funding for subways, whether it’s York University or replacing the RT,” he said. Scarborough isn’t the only part of the city that deserves new transit service, Miller said. “It’s important to serve Scarborough well. It’s important to link the Scarborough Town Centre with North York Centre and complete the Sheppard subway. And it’s important that the Spadina line to the University be extended into York Region which is where it’s supposed to go. They’re all very important. We can’t debate priorities until we get more information, but that package is probably $6 billion to $7 billion,” he said.

In related coverage:

  • Howard Moscoe, city councillor and TTC Chair, talked about gridlock, a bus line to York University and the need for more dedicated public transit lanes on roads, on Rogers TV’s call-in show “Goldhawk” Nov. 15.

Firms on a quest for fountain of (law school) youth

Recruits in the war for legal talent are getting younger and younger, reported The Globe and Mail Nov. 16. Over 300 top law students across Canada were offered jobs by Toronto’s major law firms last week and all of the new hires were second-year students who had only their first-year marks to show prospective employers. The aggressive hiring of students in the early stages of their studies is stirring debate about law firm recruiting practices. Gina Alexandris, an assistant dean of student services at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, Canada’s largest law school, says the race is becoming too disruptive. “Students start worrying about their job chances before they even open their textbooks in second year.”

On air

  • Terrorism expert Michael Dartnell, a visiting political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about four countries – Syria, Iran, Turkey and Lebanon – that might be at risk of Al Qaeda attacks like the bombing in Jordan last week, in interviews airing Monday to Thursday, Nov. 14-17, on CBC Newsworld’s “The Hour.”