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Longueil police, school boards join forces in effort to prevent coronavirus-related bullying

Police, politicians warn against coronavirus-related racism
WATCH: The Quebec government is speaking out against racial discrimination, specifically against people of Chinese descent. As Raquel Fletcher explains, this comes after reports of Asian children being bullied in schools following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The Longueuil police department has teamed up with three local school boards in an effort to prevent bullying of Asian students in connection with misinformation surrounding the coronavirus.

Longueuil police spokesperson Marie Beauvais Lavoie said the idea came from a similar intiative launched by school boards in Ontario last week, calling for calm and urging parents not to spread rumours surrounding the new coronavirus that could fuel xenophobia and racism against the Chinese community.

The school boards sent out a letter on Tuesday to raise awareness among parents, students and staff about bullying and its consequences.

READ MORE: New immersive training program by Longueuil police deemed a success

One of the school boards involved in the program told Global News it had fielded calls from parents concerned about sending their children to school over fears of contracting the virus.

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Lavoie said the south shore boasts a large Asian community and the letter was sent out as a preventative measure only.

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“It’s important to mention that we have no reported cases to the police,” she said, adding that members of the community need to come forward if they are victims of bullying or xenophobic acts relating to the fear of the coronavirus.

Quebec woman says she wants to stay in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the heart of the coronavirus outbreak
Quebec woman says she wants to stay in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the heart of the coronavirus outbreak

“If such a situation occurs in a school establishment,” the letter states, “it is important to notify your school principal or your training center, which is in close collaboration with the prevention police officers in your area.”

Lavoie said that in emergency situations requiring immediate intervention, it’s best to dial 911.

Meanwhile, politicians at the National Assembly weighed in, calling for more tolerance.

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“When there’s insecurity inside a population, sometimes it brings up the prejudice of people,” said Québec solidaire’s Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

READ MORE: Coronavirus death toll rises to 490 in China as Japan confirms 10 cases on cruise ship

Both he and Parti Québécois MNA Pascal Bérubé agreed misinformation and ignorance lead to unfounded fears.

“We have to listen to the public health experts and those public health experts are unanimous,” Nadeau-Dubois said.

“There is no imminent threat, there is no danger to our immediate safety we should remember that and continue to fight against hateful discourse and prejudice.”

Quebec Premier François Legault reitereated that there was no need for people to worry, saying measures were in place to screen travellers returning from China for the virus.