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Kids of high-income parents participate in more sports than low-income students, feel safer on playgrounds

Part of the playground at Keele Street Public School in Toronto.

JENNIFER ROBERTS/The Globe and Mail

Low-income parents feel their children are less safe on the school playground than parents from more affluent communities, according to a survey conducted by the Toronto District School Board.

Eighty-one per cent of parents with a household income under $30,000 report feeling their kids are safe outside on school property, while 91 per cent of parents with a household income over $100,000 report feeling their kids are safe outside the school.

The gap disappears once children enter the school building, where 97 per cent of parents report feeling their children are safe.

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The survey was completed in 2012 by more than 89,500 TDSB parents with children in kindergarten through Grade 6.

The results show other income-related disparities, including out-of-school participation in sports which includes just 38 per cent of students in households earning under $30,000, and jumps to 87 per cent of students in households earning over $100,000.

The TDSB has managed to close the gap between how low-income families feel their children are treated in school compared to higher-earning families. In 2008, 82 per cent of low-income and 91 per cent of high-income families said they felt their child was treated with respect in school. In 2012, those figures jumped to 91 per cent of low-income families and 95 per cent of high-income families.

The proportion of parents who reported feeling welcome in their child's school also jumped, and a 6 percentage point gap detected in 2008 was eliminated, such that 93 to 94 per cent of parents in all income brackets reported feeling welcome in school in 2012.

"Our staff have been working hard to make sure students and parents feel welcome in our schools," director of education Donna Quan said in a statement released Friday.

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About the Author
Education reporter

Kate Hammer started her journalism career in New York, chasing crime and breaking news for The New York Times. She came to the Globe and Mail in 2008 to do much of the same and ended up investigating allegations of animal cruelty and mismanagement at the Toronto Humane Society. More

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