British Columbia is working hard to ensure students can thrive, be themselves, feel safe and seek help. Student safety is paramount and can only be realized through ongoing focus on fostering safe and caring school environments and ensuring schools and communities have appropriate prevention, intervention and response strategies in place.
Addressing gang-related activities involving youth is a top safety priority for B.C., and one that requires strong partnerships between schools, police, families and other members of the community.
The K-12 Gang and Gun Violence Prevention Initiative is a key component of the erase strategy, supporting B.C. communities to help at-risk kids get off the pathway to gang involvement and on track for a brighter future. 16 communities were selected to receive this specialized funding, Campbell River, Chilliwack, Courtenay, Hope, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Delta, Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, Nanaimo, Prince George, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria and Williams Lake.
This initiative aims to provide partnership and outreach support to communities at risk of gang-related activities. This includes gang and gun violence prevention training and education sessions for school district staff, police, parents, students and community partners, and grants to support the development of local programs and for at-risk youth.
- The average age when youth begin to associate with gangs is 13 years old (Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, 2011)
- In 2017, youth 12-17 accounted for 9% of all Canadians accused of homicide - up from 5% in 2016 (Statistics Canada, 2017)
- 16% of Canadian youth accused of homicide were involved in a gang-related incident (Statistics Canada, 2017)
- B.C.’s gang landscape is unique in that gang involvement cuts across gender, ethnic and socioeconomic lines.
What are some signs that my child might be involved in a youth gang?
- They have multiple cell phones and leave the house for short periods of time
- You’ve found drug paraphernalia at home, scales or small plastic baggies
- They claim to have a job but can’t answer questions about it
- They have access to a vehicle that they don’t own
School safety is a shared responsibility that requires cooperation, collaboration and communication. Partnerships between schools and police play a particularly important role when it comes to preventing and responding to serious incidents involving:
- School violence
- Other concerns related to student safety
Maintaining School Safety: A Guide for School and Police Personnel in B.C. (PDF, 1.3MB) supports schools and police across the province to provide consistent, coordinated and effective responses to school safety incidents. The guide is intended to help clarify roles, responsibilities and shared safety procedures; improve information sharing between schools, police and families; and support the development of local community protocols for violence and threat risk assessment
The Community Violence Threat Risk Assessment Protocol Guide for British Columbia (PDF) supports school districts in creating and maintaining local agreements with community partners to work together using the Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) model. The guide outlines key components of a community VTRA protocol, and provides detailed information on the VTRA model including a complete VTRA tool kit with forms, checklists, tips and sample documents.
If you think your child is involved in a youth gang…
- Contact your school for ideas of local support services
- Contact your local police detachment
If you’d like to report something and/or are a concerned friend….
- Use the erase Report It tool
- Talk to a trusted adult (parent, teacher, school counsellor)
- Call your local police
If you’re already involved in a gang and want to leave . . .
- Use the erase Report It tool
- Talk to a trusted adult
- December 5, 2019: Gang prevention program expands to keep more students safe
- March 12, 2019: Helping B.C. students fight the lure of gangs with new ERASE strategy
- End Gang Life resources - The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit British Columbia
- Guide for Police Agencies Dealing with Youth Threat-Related Behaviour (PDF)
- Principal’s Checklists - Immediate Threat/High-Risk Behaviour, Search and Seizure (PDF)