Safe and Caring School Communities

Date came into force or revised

In force, 2004; revised and expanded, 2007 and 2012, revised May 2017



Policy statement

This policy guides boards of education and schools in their efforts to create safe and inclusive learning environments and develop prevention and intervention strategies for addressing worrisome behaviours including threats or risks of violence

Rationale or purpose of policy

Every child deserves an education free from discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation and other forms of violence. Student safety is paramount and can only be realized through ongoing focus on fostering safe and caring school communities and ensuring schools have appropriate prevention and intervention strategies in place.


The Constitution Act (1982)
(a) The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
(b) The Rights of Aboriginal Peoples
The Multiculturalism Act (RSBC 1996)
The Human Rights Code (RSBC 1996, c 210)
The Employment Equity Act (1995)
The Official Languages Act (1985)

Policy in full

British Columbia boards of education are striving to develop positive and inclusive school cultures and are committed to fostering optimal environments for learning. A key part of  this work includes fostering school connectedness and developing protocols for preventing and intervening in instances of bullying, and other worrisome behaviours.

Members of these school communities share a commitment to maintaining safe and caring schools. They are striving to

  • develop positive school cultures and focus on prevention
  • use school-wide efforts to build “community” fostering respect, inclusion, fairness and equity
  • foster trauma sensitive schools and apply a trauma informed lens to student behaviour
  • set, communicate and consistently reinforce clear expectations of conduct
  • teach, model and encourage  positive social behaviours that contribute to the school community, solve problems in peaceful ways, value diversity and defend human rights
  • assume responsibility, in partnership with the wider community, for resolving critical safety concerns
  • develop multi-disciplinary (multi-agency) community protocols for violence threat or risk assessment
  • work together to better understand issues such as bullying, intimidation, harassment, discrimination, racism, sexism and homophobia, and other worrisome behaviours and to learn new skills to respond effectively to them
  • respond consistently to incidents in a fair and reasoned manner, using interventions that repair harm, strengthen relationships and restore a sense of belonging
  • participate in the development of policies, procedures and practices that promote school safety, including all hazards emergency preparedness
  • engage in continuous learning and professional development to foster safe school communities and address emerging safety concerns
  • monitor and evaluate school culture for evidence of continuous improvement
  • recognize and celebrate achievements, while acknowledging areas that need improvement.

Boards of education should use the following to address efforts to achieve safe and caring schools: 

  • District Safe School Coordinators and teams
  • codes of conduct
  • on-line reporting tool
  • violence threat risk assessment protocols. 

These are described under the section below “procedures related to policy.”

Procedures related to policy

District Safe School Coordinators and Teams

All Boards of Education should have a District Safe School Coordinator who is responsible for district-wide safety initiatives, including overall monitoring of the online reporting site, liaising with school administrators regarding student reports, building school personnel capacity to deal with bullying and violence, and liaising with the Ministry of Education and Child Care.

Each board should have a team in place that supports district-wide safety initiatives. The composition of the district team may vary in terms of how boards organize internally to proactively support students and address safety concerns. The district team should include the following:

  • at least one senior district official – superintendent, assistant superintendent, director of instruction or district principal
  • other district staff responsible for providing services and supports to students.

Codes of Conduct

Boards of education must establish codes of conduct for the schools within their districts in accordance with the Provincial Standards for Codes of Contact Order. Boards must ensure that a reference to each of the prohibited grounds of discrimination set out in section 7 (Discriminatory publication) and section 8 (Discrimination I accommodation, service and facility) of the Human Rights Code (B.C.), including sexual orientation and gender identity or expression be included in their codes of conduct.

The Provincial Standards for Codes of Conduct Order, Developing and Reviewing Codes of Conduct Companion Guide and Safe, Caring and Orderly Schools Guide outline:

  • the steps required for developing school codes of conduct.
  • the core content that must be included in school codes of conduct.

See “resources” section below for links to these resources.

Online Reporting Tool

District Safe School Coordinators and their teams should monitor and respond to student reports of bullying, and all reports of other worrisome behaviours made through the confidential online reporting tool.

Violence Threat Risk Assessment Protocols

Boards of education should have Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) protocols in place with community partners to assess and respond to potentially worrisome behaviours and threats of violence.

VTRA protocols should be developed in collaboration with child and youth serving community agencies that represent:

  • education (school district employees and local independent schools)
  • law enforcement
  • child and youth mental health
  • child protection
  • probation
  • youth crown counsel
  • psychiatry
  • health (e.g., hospital emergency units, physicians)
  • other child and youth serving agencies


School Safety Resources