School violence is any action or event likely to cause physical, emotional or psychological harm to a student, making them feel unsafe at school and inhibiting their development and learning.
School violence can include:
- physical abuse
- verbal abuse
- bullying (including social media and cyberbullying)
- use of weapons or threats
- use of drugs
Such behaviours and actions affect the overall climate of the school.
Bullying is a major cause of school violence. If you witness bullying or are a victim of it, please report it immediately.
School violence warning signs
Violence in school often stems from the following:
- Social media rumors and bullying - this often results in violence between those concerned.
- An individual being singled out and targeted by bullies. The victim is usually aware that the bully or bullies are going to make a point of pushing, shoving or otherwise acting in a violent manner toward them.
In both cases if the violence can be predicted and it can be prevented. Early reporting of school violence to staff and administration is essential putting an end to violence in schools.
What schools are doing to prevent violence
Random acts of violence in schools are uncommon. Usually there is a history or series of events that leads up to a violent act.
All school boards and schools have policies and procedures on student conduct and behaviour which deals directly with school safety and security. They are highlighted in the individual schools' student handbooks and can be found on the schools' website.
Policies also outline visible school identification and secured doors, as well as fire drills and lockdown drills. Educating the students and parents, and counselling them on school expectations and potential discipline, plays a great role in deterring many acts of school violence. Staff at all levels is expected to respond firmly and decisively to behaviour which causes or threatens harm to persons or property. School resource officers are available to students and staff for individual or group discussions on the topic of school safety and security and school violence.
A school lock down is a procedure which is initiated when school officials believe that there is a credible threat to student and staff safety. Lockdowns are used to protect students from school shooters, bomb threats, and other forms of violence, but they can also be used when police are engaged in an operation nearby, or when a national disaster has been declared.
When a lock down is ordered, people are told to stay inside their classrooms and lock the doors to prevent people from entering. Windows mist be shut, locked and covered with blinds to obscure visibility. People are encouraged to stay away from doors and windows. The goal of a school lock down is to keep students and staff safe. It is important to comply with the lock down for safety reasons.
The SRO assigned to the school will arrange, on average, two lockdowns per year. The first will be an "announced lockdown." All staff will be prepared for a lockdown as they have been advised a drill will be occurring. When the announcement is made "lockdown, lockdown, lockdown", students and staff will follow protocol by locking all doors, staying in their classrooms away from the door, and keeping quiet until a police officer opens the door with a key advising the lockdown is over.
The second lockdown will be unannounced, where all the same protocol is followed, with the exception of notifying the staff. The only staff aware would be the administration as they would be announcing lockdown over the intercom.