Experiences of local student troubling

A very troubling piece by a student named Talia Epstein is making the rounds on social media and elsewhere.

Last week it was reviewed in your newspaper’s Commentary under the most appropriate title “Hatred, bigotry and anti-semitism have no place in Prince Edward County“.

Talia’s writing describes the (totally unacceptable) anti-semitism she has encountered from some of her fellow students at PECI.

But children live and grow-up in a community environment.

And the “Vital Signs” work by The County Foundation points to 37.3% of our kids being vulnerable in one or more areas of the Early Development Index, e.g. social competence and communication & general knowledge.

It also revealed that Hastings Prince Edward District School Board graduation rates continue to lag behind the provincial average: while HPEDSB suspension rates are “disturbingly high” compared to the Ontario average.

Yes, there is certainly a remedial role for the school here, but also for responsible parents and the caring community writ large.

The virus of racism and intolerance, sadly, is also empowered by political events to the south of us.

When dark clouds gather in the U.S., that shadow refracts through our Canadian political spectrum… federal, provincial and municipal.

However, let’s remember that our American friends have less social mobility than Canadians, concentrate more wealth with the rich, permit more poverty among their poor, experiences more violence, worse health (Americans can expect to live almost 4 years less than Canadians)… and possess an elected leadership that inflames divisive passions.

We can and should be different… for Talia Epstein’s sake and for the sake all our children, students, and little ones.

Research shows that economic & political commitments to community literacy, sports and the arts raise the bar of empowerment, emotional maturity and opportunity for our young citizens.

They — like safe streets, food security and affordable housing — are vital, positive antidotes to hateful populism and the irrational fear of others.

Most importantly, they are the proven ingredients of physical and mental wellbeing and of cognitive development. These are definitely not just costs, these are most certainly worthy investments. ´┐╝

Bill Roberts

Councillor – Sophiasburgh (Ward 6)