Safe Schools - Families and Caregivers

The Essential Conditions for Learning

At Thames Valley District School Board, we know that students learn best in a safe and caring environment. Based on research, we have created the Essential Conditions for Learning framework which promotes relationships, safety, connection, and regulation to support student learning. When students feel safe and connected to their teachers, their learning, their peers and the school community, they are better able to regulate, interact with others in healthy ways, and learn. All of which supports their mental health and overall well-being. Watch this 2-minute introductory video about the Essential Conditions for Learning.

Additional information on each essential condition can be found below.

 English Version
 Arabic Version

“Students …need supportiveaccepting, and empathic relationships and environments to serve as the foundation to help them feel safe, connected, and regulated.” (Alexander, 2019, p.58)  


Consistent, caring student/staff relationships create a path for your child to access their learning brains. Research demonstrates that positive staff-student relationships — evidenced by staff members' reports of low conflict, a high degree of closeness and support, and little dependency — have been shown to support students' adjustment to school, academic achievement, and overall mental health and well-being.  

Educators and staff care about your child and want to support them in the best way possible. It is important to recognize that there is no single strategy or program that will resolve every need; people are just too complex for that. Caring and responsive relationships are the foundation of all learning, and ALL relationships are critical. As your child embarks and continues through the school year, the most important step as a system in building relationships is getting to know our learners.

Feel Safe

Emotional safety is built through consistent, predictable, and nurturing interactions between staff and your child. If your child perceives a threat to their personal safety, the stress can affect their ability to be curious, engaged, and to learn. An emotionally safe classroom is where all children feel valued, supported, and affirmed. ​

In order to learn, students need to feel both safety TO and safety FROM.

  • Safety TO is important so that your child feels safe to be vulnerable and to express their identities, to take risks and to trust, to voice their opinions, and to make mistakes. School is the safe space for your child to express their authentic selves. ​
  • Safety FROM means safety from things like discrimination, aggression and bullying, and racism. Safety FROM means keeping your child safe from being targeted by others personally or socially, and to challenge systemic biases. 

Supporting Resources for the Condition of Safety

TVDSB Guidelines for Inclusive Learning Cultures: Supporting Trans and Gender Diverse Students & Staff - The goal of this document is to act as a guideline for supporting Trans and Gender Diverse students and staff. Any caregivers and families that still have questions or require further information after reading this guideline are invited to contact their school’s administrator or the Safe Schools System Principal.

View this document


TVDSB Draft Equity Action Plan - The Draft Equity Action Plan represents an initial step in TVDSB’s ongoing commitment to grow in our ability to address inequities in our system and barriers that impact students and staff. The voices of students, families, and community gathered through extensive consultation and dialogue in the coming months will be the driving force in charting the path forward. This document is a critical step in ensuring that safety is established for all students and staff within TVDSB.

View the Draft Equity Action Plan


Resources for Adults Wishing to Discuss Racism with Children

Wondering how to discuss race and racism with your child? Thames Valley District School Board's Equity portfolio invite you to visit the following page which highlights links to support Board employees and caregivers/families to navigate these important and timely conversations.

View the Anti-Black Racism webpage


Be Connected

People have a need to belong and be connected. When we feel excluded from social groups, our well-being is compromised, and our ability to think and problem-solve is undermined. 

When students feel connected, they will experience belonging, acceptance, and security. Their needs are valued and honored, differences are welcomed and celebrated, and every person is treated with dignity and respect. 

Quality connections are created and maintained using a variety of practices by staff (e.g., a warm smile). Every intentional and quality moment of connection strengthens students' sense of belonging, maintains feelings of safety, and promotes overall good mental health and well-being (adapted from Alexander, Tranter).


Get Regulated

How people respond to and regulate stress is influenced by genetic makeup, the quality of relationships and interactions, lived experiences, past and present adversity and/or trauma, and what is happening in their current surroundings. Specifically, the brain is wired to respond to our surroundings and interactions either with a sense of safety and openness, or with a sense danger or life threat. Your child’s lived experiences, past and present, coupled with new learning and challenging school experiences contributes to their stress and anxiety.   

Each child will vary widely in their ability to regulate in response to stress and anxiety. If their needs are unmet, this may lead to feeling unsafe, dysregulated, and unavailable for learning. School provides an opportunity to help students recognize their signs of stress, understand its impact, and develop successful coping strategies. 

Supporting Resources for the Condition of Get Regulated

We believe that by supporting the areas of overall mental health and well-being, students will be available to learn and achieve.

Please visit the Mental Health and Well-Being webpage to access information and resources on getting regulated for caregivers/families and students.



When staff intentionally focus on establishing relationships with your child using strategies that build safety, belonging, and regulation, they are creating the Essential Conditions for Learning. When “…school-based relationships are marked by genuine care, attunement, and reciprocity…all feel safe and secure enough to take the risks necessary for learning” (Alexander, 2019, p.66).

Supporting Resources for the Condition of Learn

Local Indigenous communities and TVDSB partners work together to provide an educational experience for Indigenous students through which their various needs are supported.

The ways in which we teach and support all students through curriculum across all subject areas will honour the rich histories, languages, and cultures of Indigenous people.

Visit the Indigenous Education webpage for more information.




Bullying Prevention and Intervention

At TVDSB, our top priority is the safety and well-being of all students. Bullying can have serious and long-lasting effects on those involved. All students deserve to learn in a place where they feel safe. It is important to report bullying when it happens; every incident is taken seriously and addressed so that learning occurs, relationships are restored, responsibility is taken, and school safety is maintained. Reach out to a teacher, school staff, or school administration to discuss your concerns.

Please consider using the Anonymous Reporting form, found on each individual school website if you have concerns about the safety and well-being of your child or others. The information you provide is automatically sent to the school administrator. The more detailed this information is, the better they can support you in finding a resolution to the situation. Providing your name will allow for updates on the action taken, but this is not required.

A positive school climate exists when all members of the school community feel safe, included, and accepted. This is why establishing the Essential Conditions for Learning is one of Thames Valley’s prevention strategies against bullying. Schools are also required to have a Safe and Inclusive School Plan, which outlines their commitment to improve school culture. These plans can be found on all school websites. Caregivers are encouraged to learn more about their school’s plan and consider contributing their voice as part of the Safe and Inclusive School team. 

Conflict vs. Bullying

Conflict and bullying are different, but can be experienced at the same time. It is important to understand the difference because conflict between students does not always involve bullying.

Conflict occurs between people who have a disagreement, a difference of opinion, or varying views. When there is conflict, each person feels comfortable expressing their views to come to a resolution. On the other hand, bullying is aggressive behaviour that is often repeated over time and happens when there is a real or perceived power imbalance. It is meant to cause harm, fear, distress, or create a negative environment for another person.

There can be a progression from conflict to bullying. Consider:  

  • Children learn at a young age that others can have different perspectives than their own. This awareness continues to develop into early adulthood;
  • Working through conflict towards a mutual resolution is a natural part of growing up;
  • The way people deal with conflict can make it a positive or negative experience;
  • Reaching a mutually agreeable resolution is a positive outcome of conflict;
  • Conflict becomes negative when a person behaves aggressively and says or does hurtful things;  
  • Over time, a pattern of behaviour can emerge where the person who behaves aggressively in the conflict may continue or even make it worse;
  • The person who is on the receiving end of the aggressive conflict may begin to feel less able to express their point of view and experience a sense of powerlessness; and
  • That is when negative conflict can turn into bullying.

Assisting Your Child in Understanding Conflict vs. Bullying

Interested in helping your child understand the difference between conflict, rude and mean behaviours, or bullying? Check out and refer to this quick reference guide to support a conversation with your child.

View the "Is It Bullying?" Quick Reference Guide

Click here for an accessible/translatable version

Conflict is:

  • Occasional;
  • Not planned; in the heat of the moment;
  • All parties are upset;
  • All parties want to work things out;
  • All parties will accept responsibility;
  • An effort is made by all parties to solve the problem; and
  • Can be resolved through mediation

Rude is:

  • Occasional;
  • Spontaneous: Unintentional;
  • Can cause hurt feelings; Upset;
  • Based in thoughtlessness, poor manners, or narcissism;
  • Rude person accepts responsibility; and
  • Social skill building could be of benefit

Mean is:

  • Once or Twice;
  • Intentional;
  • Can hurt others deeply;
  • Based in anger; Impulsive cruelty;
  • Behaviour often regretted; and
  • Needs to be addressed/should NOT be ignored

Bullying is:

  • Is planned and done on purpose;
  • The target of the bullying is upset;
  • The bully is trying to gain control over the target;
  • The bully blames the target;
  • The target wants to stop the bully’s behaviour, the bully does not; and
  • Cannot be resolved through mediation

Supporting Your Child's Understanding of Teasing vs. Bullying
Determining the difference between teasing and bullying can be challenging at times. This resource helps in telling the difference between the two. Check out the following resource provided by Prevnet.

Supporting your Child to Problem-Solve Conflict 'Universal Way of Addressing Concern' - Stop It - Name It - Explain It - Ask for Change
This resource can be introduced and implemented in home environments in order to support problem-solving situations. This four-step model requires extensive modelling and revisiting to ensure proper understanding and establish an adequate comfort level for your child. This model can be implemented across all age levels, including Kindergarten to Grade 12. When sharing this strategy with your child, it is important to communicate that this process should only be used if your child is feeling safe to do so.

View the "Speak Up: The Universal Way of Addressing ConcernGuide

Click here for an accessible/translatable version

Speak Up: Universal Way of Addressing Concern

Stop it

  • Stop/Address the behaviour

Name it

  • Describe the behaviour (e.g., racist, sexist, homophobic)

Explain it

  • Explain why the behaviour is inappropriate/hurtful

Ask for Change

  • Ask for a change in behaviour, discuss other appropriate words or actions to use

Types of Bullying

Bullying can take many forms. Regardless of its form, bullying is unacceptable. It can be:

  • Physical, for example hitting, shoving, damaging or stealing property;
  • Verbal, for example name-calling, mocking, making sexist, racist, or homophobic comments;
  • Social, for example spreading gossip, rumours, or excluding others from a group;
  • Written, for example writing notes and signs that are hurtful or insulting;
  • Electronic or cyberbullying, for example spreading rumours or hurtful comments using email, text messages, and social media.

For more information and tips related to conflict and bullying, check out the Ontario Ministry of Education website:

Supporting Resources

What Families/Caregivers Need to Know
Information regarding the topic of bullying is available to support children and youth at different ages and from a variety of lived experiences. Resources are available for caregivers/families outlining their role in supporting their child.

Bullying We Can All Help Stop It: A Guide For Parents of Elementary and Secondary School Students

The effects of bullying go beyond the school yard. As a parent or guardian, here’s what to watch for, what you can do, and where you can go to get help. This document was created by the province of Ontario.

Link: Bullying We Can All Help Stop It: A Guide For Parents of Elementary and Secondary School Students

What to do if you Suspect your Child is being Bullied?

Education is a shared experience involving home and school. TVDSB encourages open and ongoing dialogue among principal, staff, and parents.

If you have a concern about your child and would like to address this concern, please follow these steps:

  1. Contact the classroom teacher and discuss the situation;
  2. If the situation has not been resolved, contact the Administrator and request help in dealing with the matter; and
  3. If necessary, contact the Superintendent in charge of the school involved.

See the Conflict and Problem Resolution webpage

  • Is used to upset, threaten, or humiliate another person;
  • Uses email, cell phones, text messages, and social media to threaten, harass, embarrass, socially exclude, or damage reputations and friendships; and
  • Includes put-downs and insults, and can also involve spreading rumours, sharing private information, photos or videos, or threatening to harm someone

Supporting Resources

Cyberbullying Caregiver/Family Tip Sheet
This one-page tip sheet provides a list of cyber safety tips and resource links to help caregivers and families ensure healthy online habits for their children and to provide assistance as they navigate through cyberbullying issues.

View the Tip Sheet

Online Safety Tips for Caring Adults
This Thames Valley District School Board resource has been intentionally created in order to support parents/caregivers when exploring and discussing the topic of cyber safety with their child. It offers steps which parents/caregivers can take to help their child in navigating online forums, apps, and websites.

View the Tip Sheet

Click here for accessible/translatable version.

Online Safety Tips for Caring Adults (May 2021)

Online Safety Tips

  • Learn how to navigate the websites/apps/chat rooms that your child accesses;
  • Show your child how to create secure and unique passwords with symbols and numbers (e.g., PizzaCat25!);
  • Teach the importance of pausing and thinking before posting, as digital posts are often permanent or difficult to remove;
  • Remind your child never to share personal information online;
  • Review and set privacy settings; and
  • Remind your child that they need permission to post photos of others. 

Tips for Teaching your Kids Mindful Online Messaging

Before you text, tweet, send, or post... take a moment to:

  • Take a deep breath;
  • Notice how you are feeling;
  • Re-read your message;
  • Ask yourself "Is the message true?";
  • Think about how the message will be received;
  • What is the impact of this message? Is that what you intend?;
  • Think about what will happen next;
  • Change the message if needed;
  • If you are hurt, angry, or confused, wait before sending; and
  • Don't send messages that you would not say to someone in person.

Discussing Healthy Online Behaviour with Kids

  • Explain that online behavior should reflect in-person behavior;
  • Encourage your child to identify and speak to a trusted adult at school if something happened to make them feel uncomfortable and for which they need support to address;
  • Suggest taking regular breaks from technology; and
  • Monitor the websites/apps/platforms/etc. being used and ensure they are appropriate for your child's age and stage of development.

Adapted from 

Need Help Starting the Conversation?

  • Set a positive tone by validating the importance of technology in your child's life;
  • Discuss what your child does online, and who they interact with;
  • Ask if they've received any unwanted messages. Listen to their stories;
  • Teach them strategies to identify, respond to, and remove themselves from uncomfortable online interactions:
  • Let them know that you may be monitoring their electronic communications in order to ensure they are safe;
  • Allow for negotiation when creating agreements about use of electronic devices and online activity. This will promote your child to take ownership and responsibility.

Adapted from

Online Safety Resources
Kids Help Phone: Online Safety: Tips for Caring Adults
Media Smarts: Digital and media resources for caring adults
OPHEA: Internet Safety resources for caring adults
Public Safety Canada: How can you prevent cyberbullying

Mental Health Resources

Kids Help Phone: 24/7 crisis support: 1-800-668-6868, text 686868, for web chat
Reach Out Crisis Support: (519)433-2023 or 1-866-933-2023, for web chat

Cyberbullying – What Parents Can Do
Information regarding the topic of cyberbullying is available for caregivers/families as they support their teen who is experiencing cyberbullying or is participating in cyberbullying. It also contains a link that addresses the legal consequences of cyberbullying and a link to a cyber safety tool.


Additional Resources

MediaSmarts - Supporting Families with Digital and Media Literacy 
MediaSmarts is a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and medial literacy. They have numerous resources for parents and caregivers, related to things like cyberbullying, video games, cell phone use, privacy, and more!


Ontario Ministry of Education – 'Bullying: We Can All Help Stop It'
This website is designed for families and caregivers to identify and address bullying. It provides guidance on what to watch for, what you can do, and where you can go to get help if your child is being bullied. This resource can be accessed at:

Fact sheets are available on the PREVNet website about prevalent topics related to bullying. Research is provided when applicable. Recent fact sheets include Age Trends in the Prevalence of Bullying, Bullying and School Climate, and Bullying Prevention and Intervention. These resources can be accessed at:

School Climate & Culture

The Thames Valley District School Board is committed to providing students with a positive school climate.

A positive school climate includes the following characteristics:

  • Students, school staff members, and parents feel safe, included, and accepted.
  • All community members demonstrate respect, fairness, and kindness​;
  • Free from discrimination and harassment​;
  • Students are encouraged and given support to be positive leaders and role models their school community;
  • Principles of equity and inclusive education are present;
  • The diversity of learners is reflected in both the learning environment and instructional materials; and 
  • Every student is inspired and given support to succeed in an environment of high expectations.

It is important to acknowledge that creating a positive school climate depends on multiple elements coming together.

These essential areas include:

  • Student Voice;
  • Learning Environment;
  • Physical Environment;
  • Parent Engagement;
  • Social-Emotional Environment; and
  • School Community.

Under the direction and guidance of the Ministry of Education (Policy/Program Memorandum No. 144 (PPM144), our School Board is committed to supporting schools to create and maintain positive school climates.

Every school in Thames Valley has a Safe and Inclusive School Plan (SISP). This annual plan replaces the former Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (BPIP), and the Safe and Accepting School Plan.

This important work is facilitated at the school-level by a school-based team. This team is composed of students, family members, teachers, support staff, community partners, and the principal and/or vice principal.

Reach out to your school principal to get involved.

Restorative Practices

Restorative Practices is an emerging social science that studies how to strengthen relationships between individuals, as well as social connections within school communities. Though new to the social sciences, Restorative Practices has deep roots within Indigenous communities throughout the world. TVDSB staff have embraced the restorative mindset by participating in ongoing professional development focused on learning foundational practices for building classroom and school community.

What does Restorative Practices Mean?

The following video, created by the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), provides an overview of what Restorative Practices means.

Restorative Practices:

  • Create just, equitable, and inclusive learning environments​;
  • Nurture healthy relationships and give everyone voice​;
  • Require us to work WITH students, caregivers, and each other​;
  • Require the use of affective statements and restorative questions;
  • Repair harm and transform conflict​; and
  • Are 80% proactive strategies (e.g., conversations and community circles​)

Want to learn more about Restorative Practices? Check out the ‘Voices in the Family’ podcast.

What is a Restorative Mindset?

A restorative mindset is a way of thinking, a lens that can guide us as we make decisions and interact with others. 

Having a Restorative Mindset is a commitment to:

  • Building & repairing relationships;
  • Demonstrating empathy towards others;
  • Understanding the context and impact of a situation before reacting; and
  • Choosing solutions and supports with learning outcomes for everyone involved.

Restorative vs. Non-Restorative Mindsets

A Restorative Mindset...

  • Looks at the whole person in the context of the situation;
  • Emphasizes understanding harm done;
  • Links deterrents to relationship/personal accountability;
  • Demonstrates empathy;
  • Focuses on problem-solving for learning;
  • Focuses on consequences for learning;
  • Focuses on repairing harm and building relationships;
  • Focuses on the violation of relationships and making things right;
  • Values learning and understanding; and
  • Encourages voice and collaboration.

A Non-Restorative Mindset...

  • Looks at negative behaviour as defining the person;
  • Focuses on establishing blame;
  • Links deterrents to punishment;
  • Demonstrates a judgemental approach;
  • Focuses on guilt/compliance/punishment for learning;
  • Focuses on consequences as punishment;
  • Focuses on removing problems/exclusion;
  • Focuses on the violation of rules and requiring compliance;
  • Values consequences; and
  • Practices autocratic decision-making.

Looking for additional resources to support your understanding of restorative practices? Check out the resource below!
This brochure briefly defines Restorative Practices, highlights the foundations of Restorative Practices, and outlines a tiered-approach to Restorative Practices. The brochure provides a general overview of the actions included in the Restorative Practices Continuum. This resource is available in French and English.

How can I introduce Restorative Practices with my child?

Caregivers and families are invited to ask their children the following questions:

Restorative Questions

When Things Go Wrong

When Someone Has Been Harmed

What happened?

What happened?

What were you thinking of at the time?

What did you think when you realized what had happened?

What have you thought about since?

What impact has this incident had on you and others?

Who has been affected by what has happened? In what way?

What has been the hardest thing for you?

What do you think you need to do to make things right?

What do you think needs to happen to make things right?

(Modified from International Institute for Restorative Practices)
Supporting Restorative Practices with Community Partnerships

In partnership with our Safe Schools and Well-Being portfolio, organizations such as St. Leonard's Community Services and LUSO offer a variety of prevention and intervention strategies for working with youth in a school-based setting.

The St. Leonard’s Community Services school-based programs typically focus on diversion practices and restorative approaches, such as Peer Power and Restorative Approaches. LUSO offers sessions supporting the goal for a more culturally and racially inclusive environment. 

Looking for More information…
Looking for more information on both organizations, please reach out to your school principal or visit the St. Leonard’s or LUSO site by following the links below. 

St. Leonard’s Community Services

LUSO Community Services

Bias-Aware Progressive Discipline, Suspension, and Expulsion

Bias-aware progressive discipline provides an opportunity to support, teach, and build a positive learning community where relationships matter and taking responsibility for poor choices is facilitated in meaningful ways. When student behaviour is inappropriate, hurtful, and/or does harm to member(s) of a school community, it is important that consequences fit the circumstance and the students involved. While suspension is one option, and may be considered in some circumstances, schools are much better poised to foster a school climate of safety, community, and high expectations when a wide range of meaningful options are available. Holding students accountable for their actions, while giving them opportunities to restore relationships and repair harm when it is done are an important part of the process.

Bias-Aware Progressive Discipline

When addressing student choices or behaviours that cause harm, administrators apply a bias-free progressive discipline approach. Using Ontario's Progressive Discipline Policy, an administrator can choose from a range of options to address student behaviuor and to support them in learning from their choices. This takes into account who the students are, any mitigating factors related to their behaviour, and the context of the situation.

Bias-Aware Progressive Discipline options can include:

  • A consequence that is reasonable under the circumstances;
  • A sincere apology for a hurtful or disrespectful comment;
  • A review of the expectations for the student;
  • A meeting with parent(s) or guardian(s);
  • Participating in a circle, moderated by a caring adult on staff;
  • Being supported in repairing harm that occurred;
  • Referral to a school support counsellor or social worker; and
  • Suspending the student from school

In more serious cases, such as ones where bullying continues or violence has occurred, suspensions and potentially expulsions will be considered pending the outcome of a principal’s investigation. When students present an unacceptable risk to the safety of others, the Safe Schools Act (2000) requires school administrators to consider suspensions and expulsions. These rules apply to both elementary and secondary students.

Bias-Aware Progressive Discipline:

  • Helps to prevent inappropriate behaviour from getting worse and having a negative impact on all students and their perceptions of safety and the school;
  • Promotes positive student behaviour; and
  • Helps students take responsibility for their behaviour and learn more positive ways of interacting with others.

Learn more about progressive discipline by following the link below: (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2021)

Supporting Bias-Free Progressive Discipline in Schools
The Ontario ministry of education, in consultation with educators, non-teaching staff, students, families/caregivers, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission, created this resource. It is meant to guide school and system leaders in fostering a bias-free approach to progressive discipline, prevention, and early intervention practices to support positive student behaviour among all students.

View the Resource Guide

Suspension and Expulsion

Understanding Mitigating Factors of Suspension and Expulsion

Suspensions and expulsions are consequences that are appropriate for students, depending on the severity or impact of the incident, and/or as part of a progressive discipline approach.  

It is important to understand and consider the mitigating factors, as identified in the Ontario Education Act Regulation 472/07, that may impact whether a suspension is an appropriate consequence in a given circumstance.

Mitigating Factors for Suspension and Expulsion:

  1. The pupil does not have the ability to control their behaviour;
  2. The pupil does not have the ability to understand the foreseeable consequences of their behaviour; and
  3. The pupil’s continuing presence in the school does not create an unacceptable risk to the safety of any person. 

(Government of Ontario, O. Reg. 472/07, s. 2)

Other Factors Impacting the Decision to Suspend or Expel:

  1. The pupil’s history;
  2. Whether a progressive discipline approach has been used with the pupil;
  3. Whether the activity for which the pupil may be or is being suspended or expelled was related to any harassment of the pupil because of their race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, or sexual orientation, or to any other harassment;
  4. How the suspension or expulsion would affect the pupil’s ongoing education;
  5. The age of the pupil; and
  6. In the case of a pupil for whom an individual education plan has been developed:
  • Whether the behaviour was a manifestation of a disability identified in the pupil’s individual education plan;
  • Whether appropriate individualized accommodation has been provided; and
  • Whether the suspension or expulsion is likely to result in an aggravation or worsening of the pupil’s behaviour or conduct. 

(Government of Ontario, O. Reg. 472/07, s. 3; O. Reg. 412/09, s. 4.) ​​​​​​​

How do I Appeal a Suspension?
The Suspension of Students Policy and Procedures (2015) allows parent(s)/legal guardian(s)/adult student(s) to appeal a suspension of any length. They must provide written notice of intention to appeal to the Superintendent of Student Achievement responsible for Safe Schools within 10 school days of commencement of the suspension. This document, prepared by Learning Support Services, provides a checklist to be used to support the suspension appeal process.

View the Suspension Appeal Process document

Suspension and Expulsion: What Parents and Students Should Know
Ontario schools use a progressive discipline approach which combines early and ongoing interventions to promote positive student behaviour. When inappropriate student behaviour occurs, schools consider a range of options to respond to each situation and help students learn from their choices, while taking into account their individual circumstances. In some cases, a suspension or an expulsion may be necessary.

This document, created by the Ontario Ministry of Education, provides parents and students with a detailed overview of the process followed by schools when considering suspension and expulsion. For more information on this process, please click below.



Safe Schools Procedure

TVDSB is committed to ensuring that it provides learning and working environments that are safe, accepting, and inclusive for all.  The Safe Schools Procedure document, prepared by Learning Support Services, provides details related to access to school sites, code of conduct, student dress code, bullying prevention and intervention, progressive discipline, suspensions, expulsion, and the appeal process.  

View the Safe Schools Procedure

Anti-Sex Trafficking Protocol

The Policy/Program Memorandum 166 Keeping Students Safe: Policy Framework for School Board Anti-Sex Trafficking Protocols (PPM166) sets a strong foundation for Ontario school boards to build local anti-sex trafficking protocols. This protocol will support coordinated action by school staff, along with community partners to prevent, identify and recognize sex trafficking and develop responses to facilitate early and appropriate intervention. Welcoming and engaging school environments lead to positive student experiences, especially when families and communities are intentionally involved in the students’ learning (Government of Ontario, 2021). Safe Schools, both physically and psychologically, are a critical element to successfully nurturing positive student experiences.

View the Anti-Sex Trafficking Protocol

Click for an accessible/translatable version.

Purpose and Context Setting 

The Policy/Program Memorandum 166 Keeping Students Safe: Policy Framework for School Board Anti-Sex Trafficking Protocols (PPM166) sets a strong foundation for Ontario school boards to build local anti-sex trafficking protocols. This protocol will support coordinated action by school staff, along with community partners to prevent, identify and recognize sex trafficking and develop responses to facilitate early and appropriate intervention. 

Welcoming and engaging school environments lead to positive student experiences, especially when families and communities are intentionally involved in the students’ learning (Government of Ontario, 2021). Safe Schools, both physically and psychologically, are a critical element to successfully nurturing positive student experiences.

Due to almost daily contact with students, teachers and other education staff are well placed to educate on prevention and promote healthy relationships, notice troubling changes in behaviour, and connect with students as caring adults. By training staff to recognize the signs of sex trafficking, they will be better equipped to identify the cues and safely intervene if they suspect a student is being trafficked or involved in trafficking. Education can also serve as a key factor in helping survivors of trafficking heal and rebuild their lives, helping to prevent re-victimization and resetting students on a healing trajectory towards positive outcomes. 

As outlined in the Ministry of Education’s PPM-166 (Government of Ontario, 2021), many school-aged children and youth are a target for sex trafficking as the average age for recruitment is 13 years. A lack of understanding about the warning signs and tactics of traffickers is one of the contributing factors. Educating students about these, along with how to access help are ways to help prevent involvement in sex trafficking. Students are not only a target for being trafficked but may be involved in the trafficking of their peers. Youth under the age of 18 were accused of human trafficking in three percent of the incidents in 2019 (Ibrahim, 2021). 

The Impact of Colonialism on Indigenous People and Communities 

Beginning with an acknowledgement and understanding that colonization laid the foundation for gender-based violence in this country (National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, 2019). Through the process of colonization extensive violence was enacted to the land, resources, and the communities, of Indigenous people, with these acts of exploitation continuing today (Graham, 2021). As indicated by Roxburgh and Shaw (2021) “colonialism is at the core of human trafficking in Canada” (Foreword section, para. 3) and continues to normalize the exploitation of Indigenous women, girls and boys along with gender diverse people. As a result, these victims are not seen as such and are thereby denied the necessary assistance, support and justice which they are entitled to (Roxburgh & Shaw, 2021).  

The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019) highlighted that in 2016 almost 50% of women being trafficked in Canada were Indigenous, even though they represented only 4% of the Canadian population. Historical and ongoing trauma with the education system needs to be recognized as a possible barrier to engagement from Indigenous parents, caregivers, and communities.  

TVDSB recognizes that human trafficking has disproportionality impacted individuals who are Indigenous and that addressing this issue requires critically reflecting on our practices across the system through anti-colonial and anti-racism lenses. As indicated in the Draft Equity Action Plan (2020), “TVDSB recognizes the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples and the need to create and foster a culturally safe environment for Indigenous students and staff. The TVDSB acknowledges its longstanding relationships through Education Service Agreements with the Oneida Nation of the Thames, the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, and the Munsee-Delaware Nation, as well as with urban Indigenous communities. In continuing to develop this Draft Plan, TVDSB recognizes the need for ongoing collaboration with the TVDSB Indigenous Education Team and Indigenous communities, families and students” (Introduction section, para. 4). 

Increased risks and use of digital tools 

“Frequent use of mobile phones and computers can make it harder for caring adults to recognize the signs that a student is being groomed and lured. This increases the importance of educating students about both the positive and negative potentials of the Internet, including the harmful impacts of violent depictions in sexually explicit imagery. Traffickers and other sexual predators are increasingly using online social media platforms to lure, groom and recruit young people into sexual acts or services. Social media can provide an easy point of access into conversation and relationships with unsuspecting students” (Government of Ontario, 2021, Increased risks and use of digital tools section). The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in students using digital tools more frequently, hence increasing this risk further.  

Why some students at higher risk? 

While any student can be sex trafficked, some groups are at increased risk: 

  • Systemic racism and discrimination have led to a disproportionate number of Indigenous and Black children and youth in care, which can lead to a lack of consistent relationships with caring adults and peers in schools. 
  • Indigenous peoples are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking due to historic and ongoing systemic discrimination, including intergenerational trauma and colonialism. 
  • Language barriers, isolation, economic disadvantage or a lack of community and social supports may leave newcomer youth with increased vulnerability to trafficking. 
  • Students with disabilities may experience bullying and isolation in addition to having difficulty understanding the intentions of others. 
  • Students who are 2SLGBTQQIA experience high rates of bullying, assaults, and sexual abuse, and they may face isolation or displacement if they experience rejection from their family or the community. 

            (Government of Ontario, 2021) 


Key Definitions 

Sex Trafficking: As outlined in the Ministry of Education’s PPM-166, “sex trafficking is a form of sexual exploitation and is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada. It can include recruitment, harboring, transporting, obtaining, or providing a person for the purpose of sex. It involves force, physical or psychological coercion or deception. Most individuals who are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploration are woman and girls, but all people may be targeted” (Government of Ontario, 2021, Definition of Sex Trafficking section). 

Human Trafficking: The Criminal Code of Canada defines human trafficking as recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, holding, concealing, or harbouring a person, or exercising control, direction, or influence over the movements of a person, to facilitate their exploitation. 

Within the communities served by TVDSB, most service providers use the term “Human Trafficking” in this area of work. For this protocol, and in our work with community partners, we will be using sex trafficking and human trafficking interchangeably.  

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is violence committed against someone based on their gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender. GBV can take many forms: cyber, physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, and economic, as well as neglect and harassment. These can include physical acts, as well as words, actions and attempts to control to degrade, control, humiliate, intimidate, coerce, deprive, threaten, or harm another person (Manitoba Government Inquiry, n.d.).  

Colonialism: “the attempted or actual imposition of policies, laws, mores, economies, cultures, or systems and institutions put in place by settler governments to support and continue the occupation of Indigenous territories, the subjugation of Indigenous individuals, communities and Nations, and the resulting internalized and externalize ways of thinking and knowing that support this occupation and subjugation. These impositions are race and gender based” (National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, 2019, p.77).  

Trauma-Sensitive Approach: Acknowledges that stress and adversity have an impact on learning, and centers the values of safety, relationships, and a strength-based approach in all learning environments. 

Healing Centered Engagement: Is a holistic approach “involving culture, spirituality, civic action and collective healing. A healing centered approach views trauma not simply as an individual isolated experience, but rather highlights the ways in which trauma and healing are experienced collectively. The term healing centered engagement expands how we think about responses to trauma and offers more holistic approach to fostering well-being” (Ginwright, 2018).   

Please see Appendix A for a glossary of additional terms.


Protocol development and implementation: an ongoing process 

In September 2021, TVDSB established an internal working group with members from various portfolios to take the lead in developing this anti-sex trafficking protocol. As part of the process, consultation with 20 community partners was undertaken to gain an understanding of the being down in this sector in TVDSB communities (Appendix B). In addition to the community consultations, a comprehensive review of relevant literature, reports and electronic resources was completed (please see Appendix C for a summary of these findings). A scan of existing practices, community partnerships, available resources and a review of curriculum expectations also occurred. Given the current pandemic limiting in-person contact and the protocol development timeline, engagement activities with students, families and some communities have been limited. We believe that this should occur on an ongoing basis as part of the protocol implementation plan. Given this limitation, this protocol will be reviewed and updated annually for the next 3 years, and then every 2 years thereafter, to ensure student, family and community feedback is embedded in this ongoing work. Aspects of this protocol will also be included in TVDSB’s Draft Equity Plan, Mental Health and Addiction Strategic Plan, Board Improvement and Equity Plan, and the Operational Plan. 


Guiding Principles  

We are committed to the following guiding principles in the development and implementation of this protocol: 

  1. We recognize that colonization is the root cause of the disproportionate number of Indigenous girls, women, boys and young men being sex trafficked. We seek to further understand and learn about the impact colonization has had on the Indigenous communities and how we can address systemic oppression within TVDSB.  
  2. The lived experiences of individuals who have been sex trafficked must be at the centre of this work and inform the language we use.  
  3. We recognize and understand that sex trafficking is a form of gender-based violence.  
  4. Ensuring that the identity of the child / youth who is trafficked is at the forefront of how we respond is imperative. We will collaborate with community agencies to support the youth as needed using a culturally relevant and responsive approach. 
  5. Ensuring that our practices do no harm to our students and families will be at the forefront of decision making. We will use healing-centered and trauma-sensitive strategies in implementing initiatives and interventions.   
  6. In partnering with Indigenous and Black parents and caregivers, we recognize the historic and systemic barriers that may impact their engagement. 
  7. Our practices will respect confidentiality, and the limits to it, and ensure that the student fully understands how their information may be used or with whom it may be shared. We are committed to enhancing our referral relationships with community service organizations while adhering to applicable legal requirements, including those under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; the Ontario Human Rights Code; the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005; the Education Act; and the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017. 
  8. We are committed to delivering developmentally appropriate school-based prevention and awareness activities that will complement existing prevention efforts in schools (i.e.: consent, healthy relationships, healthy sexuality).  
  9. We are committed to ensuring employees receive comprehensive anti-sex trafficking professional learning, so they are equipped to identify the signs of sex trafficking, safely respond to disclosures.   
  10. Parents and caregivers are key partners in the development, implementation, and review of anti-sex trafficking initiatives and resources on an ongoing basis. Every effort will be made to reduce cultural and/or linguistic barriers when reaching out to parents, guardians, and caregivers about this work. 
  11. Accessing the knowledge and expertise of community partners in supporting professional learning for staff, parent/caregiver awareness initiatives, and supporting child and youth transitions out of sex trafficking is critical. We are committed to being aware and engaged in the cross-sector work that is occurring within our communities in human trafficking. 
  12. We recognize that the COVID-19 global pandemic has increased the vulnerability of some children and youth, and we are aware of the ongoing uncertainty. 


TVDSB’s Prevention Framework: Essential Conditions for Learning  

The “Essential Conditions for Learning” framework is currently being implemented across the system as part of TVDSB’s Annual Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan. This framework aligns with evidence-informed practices relating to the prevention of students being involved in sex-trafficking. It focuses on well-being and mental health in a trauma-sensitive and culturally-safe manner. As illustrated in Figure #1 below, it centers the values of safety, relationships, compassion, and a strength-based approach in all learning environments. Caring and consistent relationships between students and staff act as the foundation when creating a classroom where students feel safe, connected, regulated, and can participate in their learning. This is done by knowing the students, responding to cues, and adjusting supports and interventions. When tier-one classroom strategies and practices are informed by, and align with, the Essential Conditions for Learning, we support overall mental health and well-being.

Within the “safety” condition, a focus on cultural safety is required.  A culturally safe learning environment is one in which all students feel comfortable about expressing their ideas, opinions, and needs and about responding authentically to topics that may be culturally sensitive. Educators should be aware that some students may experience emotional reactions when learning about issues that have affected their own lives, their family, and/or their communities. Before addressing such topics in the classroom, teachers need to consider how to prepare and debrief with students and ensure that resources are available to support students. Applying cultural safety principles will require ongoing learning and reflection from staff. This includes examining their own lived experiences and positions and seeking information to learn more about the lived experiences and identities of the students in their classroom. 

Appendix B summarizes the alignment of the Essential Conditions for Learning with evidence-informed practices related to prevention of sex-trafficking for student.  


Strategies to raise awareness and prevent trafficking 

TVDSB is committed to raising awareness about human trafficking with students and caregivers/families in partnership with community service providers. The following activities will be implemented between January 2022 and August 2026. 


Table 1: Awareness Raising Initiatives for Students 



Enhance existing curriculum for grades K-12 related to healthy relationships, human/sex-trafficking (signs a student is being targeted, lured, groomed, trafficked, or is trafficking another student), cyber safety, and culturally relevant social and emotional learning. 

  • Provide educators additional classroom lesson plan resources which align to the grade 6-12 physical and health education curriculum. Refer to Appendix B for a detailed outline of curriculum alignment (September 2022). 
  • Educators to implement the TVDSB grade 6 lesson plans related to human trafficking (formerly part of the Values, Influences and Peers Program- VIP) across the system (2022-2023). 
  • Provide educators of grades K-5 classroom resources which focus on developing social and emotional skills, healthy relationships, positive self-image, understanding personal space, fairness, and equity (January 2023). 
  • Develop supplemental secondary lesson plans which will be integrated into additional courses (September 2023).  
  • Implement SMHO’s “MH-LIT for Secondary Students” program, which focuses on student mental health, well-being and how to reach out for help (January 2022). 

** For a sample of recommended educator resources to support enhancing the curriculum, refer to Appendix C. 

Share developmentally appropriate information and resources related to human trafficking, cyber safety, and healthy relationships with students on social media, TVDSB website and through information sessions. 

  • Partner with student leaders to disseminate information, including the Student Equity, Inclusion & Advisory Committee. 
  • Provide resources for student support in “Together in the Valley” (student mental health and well-being newsletter). 
  • Utilize twitter, Facebook, and Instagram platforms to share information. 
  • Promote the London Police Services Human Trafficking social media campaign (February 2022). 
  • Partner with community services to offer student information sessions / classroom presentations. 
  • Promote community partners information on social media. 
  • Post the “Anti-Human Sex-Trafficking” protocol on TVDSB website. 

Develop and implement student prevention and awareness initiatives for Indigenous children and youth.  

  • In partnership with Atlohsa Family Healing Services, offer ongoing Indigenous focused prevention sessions. 
  • Co-create a plan with Indigenous communities and service providers. 

Develop and implement student prevention and awareness initiatives for newcomer children and youth.  

  • Enhance mental health and well-being supports for ELD secondary students by developing a pilot for a class-based prevention and intervention program (2022-2023).  
  • Enhance mental health and well-being supports for all English language learners (2023-2026).  
  • Develop culturally relevant student resources related to sex-trafficking prevention and supports with community partners.  
  • Provide students with resources and information in their preferred language. 

Raise awareness with students about how they can bring concerns that they, or another student, are involved in trafficking without fear of reprisal.

  • As part of the anti-human trafficking lesson plans, students will be provided with information about available supports at school and in the community. This will include how students can anonymously share concerns using the “TVDSBcares” electronic reporting process available on every school’s website page.  
  • Such information will also be shared on social media and TVDSB’s website.  

Complete a review of existing technology and tools to identify and deter potential situations involving students who could be at risk of sex trafficking and other online threats, while using school board-provided technology. 

  • Identify all relevant technology and tools administered by TVDSB that can support student cyber safety
  • Implement appropriate changes in the technology and tools to mitigate sex-trafficking and other online cyber threat risks among students.
  • Promote age appropriate, cyber hygiene practices among students to enhance cyber privacy and safety in the use of school board-provided technology

Table 2: Awareness Raising Initiatives for Parents/Caregivers 



Provide parent/caregiver workshops on topics such as:  

  • Signs that their child is being targeted, lured, groomed, trafficked, or is trafficking another student.  
  • Hear from survivors about their lived experiences. 
  • How to get help safely and how they can report concerns to TVDSB (including anonymous reporting). 
  • TVDSB’s process for responding to concerns. 
  • Online privacy and safety best practices to enhance awareness of cyber risks and threats
  • Virtual information sessions co-facilitated with community partners at minimal once per year.
  • Record information sessions and make them available on TVDSB website. 

Engage parent/caregiver leaders to co-create awareness building initiatives. 

  • Consult and partner with TVPIC and Home and School Councils to identify needs and implement prevention initiatives. 

Develop and distribute a parent/caregiver “conversation starters” resource.  

  • Include the resource in “Together in the Valley” (Mental Health and Well-Being newsletter for families). 
  • Promote the resource on social media. 
  • Post the resource on TVDSB website. 

Develop and implement parent/caregiver and community prevention and awareness initiatives for Indigenous families. 

  • Co-create a plan with Indigenous communities and service providers. 


Develop and implement parent/caregiver and community prevention and awareness initiatives for newcomer families. 

  • Collaborate with community partners, including the Settlement Workers in Schools programs, to offer workshops in various languages.  
  • Develop culturally relevant resources related to sex-trafficking prevention and supports with community partners.  
  • Provide parents/caregivers with resources and information in their preferred language. 

Share information and resources related to human trafficking and cyber safety on social media, TVDSB website, family newsletters and information letters from educators. 

  • Promote videos / resources (for example: London Police Service campaign videos, 
  • Share facts, tips and where to access support on scheduled social media posts. 
  • Re-Share cyber safety information. 
  • Post the “Anti-Human/Sex Trafficking Protocol” on TVDSB website. 
  • Create a “Anti-Human/Sex Trafficking” resource page on Safe Schools section of the TVDSB website.  

Response Procedures  

The following procedures support and provide guidance to school board employees in relation to responding to different phases of students involved with sex trafficking:   

  • There are warning signs, or information has been shared that a student being targeted, lured or groomed into sex trafficking
  • There are warning signs, or information has been shared that a student is being sex trafficked.  
  • There is concern, or information has been shared that a student may be targeting, luring, grooming, or recruiting children and youth for the purpose of sex trafficking.  
  • A student is returning to school after they have been trafficked or involved in the trafficking of others.  

The “school team” referenced below can include administrators, educators, Educational Assistants, Early Childhood Educators, special education staff, professional student services, Learning Support Teachers, Guidance teachers, and Student Support Teachers

When staff identifies warning signs, or has information that a student is being targeted, lured, or groomed into sex-trafficking  

Consult with the school team, including administrators and professional student services staff, to develop a plan that includes who will reach out to the student and their family. The following should be considered in developing this plan:  

  • The school staff with the most supportive relationship with the student should be involved in reaching out to the student.  
  • The school team always maintains confidentiality of the student information. Information will only be shared with whom the student and/or family consent to (unless it is a “Duty to report” under the CYSFSA).
  • Ideally, sharing the concerns with parents/caregivers would occur to develop a support plan. However, if there are concerns that a family member is potentially a perpetrator, this can pose a safety risk. In these situations, staff are obligated to follow the “Reporting Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect Procedures”.  
  • The school team to partner with the student and family to develop a support plan which may include a referral to community resources and/or a referral to TVDSB professional student services staff if the student is needing support while in school.   
  • School administrators can consult with the Mental Health Lead as needed.   

When staff becomes aware that a student is being trafficked  

When responding to any students who have been trafficked it is important to not use the terms sex trafficking, human trafficking or exploitation when talking with the student. Most individuals who have been trafficked do not view their situation, or the person(s) who exploited them as perpetrators or traffickers. It is imperative that TVDSB staff responding in these situations use the same language that the young person does to describe their situation and their trafficker (Children of the Street Society, n.d.; Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada, 2014). Consult with the school team, including administrators and professional student services staff, to develop an appropriate plan.

Students under 16 years of age:   

Effective October 1, 2021, amendments to the Child and Youth Family Services Act (CYFSA) were implemented related to the authority Children’s Aid Societies have in intervening in situations where children are being trafficked. As such, there is now a “duty to report” when a child under 16 years old is being trafficked. This duty applies to all situations, including when the family is protective and trying to keep their child safe. Therefore, school staff is required follow the “Reporting Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect Procedures”.  

  • The staff member should inform the school administrator. The school administrator and staff can consult with professional student services staff or the Mental Health Lead.  
  • The school team to partner with the student and family to develop a support plan. The school team should consider referring the student and family to community human trafficking programs.   
  • The Children’s Aid Societies have agreed to utilize the “Situation Tables” in high-risk situations to develop a collaborative and trauma-sensitive plan. TVDSB have professional service staff representation on each of the 4 situation tables in our region (Oxford, Elgin, Middlesex, and London). The TVDSB representative will act as a liaison between the situation table and the student’s school to share information and facilitate school staff being involved in the Situation Table’s intervention plan as appropriate.   
  • With consent, a representative from the school team should participate in service coordination and planning meetings with community partners throughout the process.   

Students who are aged 16 or 17:  

The recent CYFSA legislative amendments provide child protection workers with the authority to remove a 16- or 17-year-old from a sex trafficking situation for a limited period to offer voluntary supports and services in situations where there is high risk that if not removed immediately, the youth will not be accessible again. This approach recognizes that a voluntary approach may not be adequately responsive to the unique situation of trafficked youth, while also recognizing the potential unintended consequences of an ‘apprehension’ for 16- and 17-year-olds. The intent is to interrupt a high-risk situation to offer the youth voluntary services and to provide information that may assist the youth in extricating themselves from the trafficker, whether at the time of the removal, or later.  

  • Under the CYFSA, a person may, but is not required to, make a report to a Children’s Aid Society if they suspect that a 16- or 17-year-old has been, or is at risk of being trafficked. Staff to consult with administration and professional services as part of the process in making this decision.    
  • The school team to partner with the student and family to develop a support plan. The school team should consider referring the student and family to community human trafficking programs.   
  • With consent, a representative from the school team should participate in service coordination and planning meetings with community partners throughout the process.   

Students aged 18 and up:   

  • The school team to partner with the student and family to develop a support plan. The school team should consider referring the student and family to community human trafficking programs and the police as appropriate.   
  • Consent is required to share information with the student’s family.   
  • With consent, a representative from the school team should participate in service coordination and planning meetings with community partners throughout the process.   

Supporting a student’s immediate physical and emotional safety needs

When supporting a student who is being trafficked, it is imperative that trauma-sensitive and healing centered approaches be used by providers who are connected to and supporting the student. As part of developing the support plan, the school and community team members involved are encouraged to:    

  • Establish if the student is safe from their trafficker for the time being as traffickers keep tabs on their victims. 
  • Ensure their basic needs are met.   
  • Be clear about role of each partner, goals in supporting the student and the limits to confidentiality.  
  • Ask the child/youth what they need and offer to connect them with the appropriate person/agency who can support them with that (ex. housing, counselling, legal, etc.). 
  • Prioritize building a relationship with the student by staying in regular contact with them.  
  • Provide them with all the necessary information so they are informed to make decisions for themselves (where there is the opportunity to do).  
  • Be patient with them as decision making may be difficult for them as all power has been stripped of them during the trafficking process.   
  • Recognize that many victims do not view themselves as victims.  
  • Be sensitive to any fears the student may have about retribution by the trafficker toward them or their family.    
  • Ensure the student understands they are not responsible for the exploitation or for not leaving the situation.   
  • Be aware that children/youth who are victims of trafficking are often provided with a false story to tell authorities and are conditioned not to trust them.   
  • Not speak negatively about the exploiter, with whom the student has a complex relationship with and may consider them as a romantic partner.   

(Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2017; Children of the Street, n.d.) 

Supporting Students returning to school after they have been trafficked

When a child/youth who has been trafficked returns to school, the same principles outlined in the other phases are still applicable. The use of trauma-sensitive and healing-centered approaches will continue to be at the forefront of working with the student.

  • Continue to maintain and respect the confidentiality of the student and their situation.
  • Ensure there is a safety plan in place for the student in all instances even if the individual who trafficked them is not at the school.
  • With consent of the student and parent/caregiver consider a case conferencing approach which includes inviting community agencies that are supporting the student as part of the return to school process. In partnership with the student, parent/caregiver and community support(s) to develop a support plan for the student.
  • A support plan should include a process for the student leaving class, where they will go within the school and who will support them if they need a break from, or unavailable for learning.
  • Set check in points as part of the support plan with the student, and with the larger school and community team so that ongoing support for the student is maintained, and additions to the plan can be made.
  • Continue to or start to provide opportunities for decision making for the child/youth when possible. But remember to be patient with them as decision making may be difficult for them as all power has been stripped of them during the trafficking process.
  • Remember that the child/youth is more than this one experience and this is should not define who they are.    
  •  Also, it is important to note that a child/youth may return to being trafficked. It is imperative that if this happens there is no judgement placed upon the young person, and that the process of supporting the student will continue.

(Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2017; Children of the Street, n.d.) 

Students who may be targeting, luring, grooming, or recruiting children and youth for the purpose of sex trafficking 

  • Students/community may report concerns or disclose concerns via several means, including but not limited to anonymous school reporting website or by connecting with administrators, Guidance or professional student services staff.
  • If a sex-trafficking concern is received or generated by staff, a Safe School Incident form should be completed after reporting the concern to school administration.
  • Administration connects with Guidance or professional student services staff. The school team determines which caring adult to the student will contact and connect with the student victim(s) to assure immediate safety. Administration is kept apprised of this outcome and responds as necessary. Student safety and well-being is prioritized.
  • Administrators take the lead on the investigation into the report that a student is engaged in alleged sex-trafficking activities.
  • If a there is reasonable and credible evidence that a student is engaged in sex trafficking other students, their parents/caregivers would be notified, and police would be called, and a Violent Incident Reporting form would also need to be completed. 
  • A parallel police investigation may take place alongside what the school conducts.
  • When a student who has allegedly been engaged in sex-trafficking, returns to school, the re-entry plan should include clear expectations for this student, particularly in relation to anyone in the school who was vulnerable.  Any student who was a target or victim of this alleged sex-trafficking student should be offered a Safety Planning meeting with school and community partners to provide sufficient socio-emotional supports and a plan to mitigate risk of further sex-trafficking.

Culturally Responsive Considerations  

When working with any child or youth who is involved in sex trafficking staff are to respond in a manner that is culturally responsive for the student. Indigenous, Black, 2SLGBTQIA+ and other communities have experienced racism, discrimination, and oppression from the educational, child welfare, health care and criminal systems. Being mindful of this as we engage with police and child welfare partners in response to concerns that a student is being trafficked is imperative. The following are practices which support students and families:  

  • Provide as much choice as possible about how support can be offered.   
  • Invite the student and parent/caregiver to involve a support person from their community in the process and meetings. Be mindful that in some instances connecting with someone from their community may not be welcomed due to concerns about confidentiality or cultural beliefs.
  • Listen to the concerns of the student and parent/caregiver and validate their lived experiences.   
  • Be transparent about who you are sharing information with, what information is being shared and for what purpose.   
  • Ensure that communication with the student and family is offered in their language of choice. Utilize professional interpretation services as needed. Family members and other school staff should not be used as interpreters.   
  • For Indigenous families, the CYFSA requires involvement and consultation with Indigenous communities as part of the CAS response process.   

Educators are encouraged to use the School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO) ONE-CALL desk reference (School Mental Health Ontario, n.d.) strategies when they are concerned for a student’s mental health or well-being:  

  • Observe: Know your students’ typical behaviours and responses. When educators know their students, they are well positioned to observe changes in thoughts, feeling, or actions.  
  • Notice: Notice changes in behaviour or mood of the student.  
  • Explore: Seek out information about the things you are observing.  
  • Connect: Make a connection with the student to see if they are open to a conversation. Consider connecting to others in the circle of support.   
  • Ask: Ask the student how you can help  
  • Listen: Actively listen to the student to validate their experience.   
  • Link: Link students to other supports (School or community)  

It is imperative that the identified school staff follow-up with the student and family as included in the support plan to build trust and strengthen the caring relationship.   

In some situations, other students may be impacted by the situations (i.e. peer who disclosed to staff concern about a friend, siblings). School staff should check-in with any student who may be impacted and develop a support plan as needed.  


Training for school board employees 

Professional learning for employees is an on-going process. The following content will be covered in the various professional learning initiatives: 

  • A review of the impact of colonization in Canada on Indigenous people and communities. 
  • Key definitions, common misconceptions, and myths about sex trafficking, including tactics used for online luring, grooming and recruitment. 
  • Learning about human rights-based approaches to combat sex trafficking, including the application of anti-colonial, equity, anti-racism, gender-based violence, trauma-sensitive, and healing-centered approaches.  
  • Information on protective factors and prevention-focused supports and resources. 
  • Information on risk factors and signs that a student is at risk of, or is being lured, groomed, or trafficked. 
  • Signs that a student is involved in luring, grooming or trafficking others. 
  • Response procedures, including the duty to report, handling disclosures, supporting students' safety, supporting students impacted by sex trafficking, and issues of privacy and confidentiality. 
  • Resources available to students and affected staff, including culturally responsive supports. 
  • Additional training resources to support staff to understand and safely respond to sex trafficking. 
  • Roles and responsibilities of school board employees in raising awareness, identifying, and responding to sex trafficking. 

TVDSB will deliver professional learning using a variety of approaches as outlined in Table 3. TVDSB is committed to ensuring that the content of training remains current and reflects community trends and leading practices.  

Table 3: Employee Professional Learning Initiatives 



Protocol review as part of mandatory self-directed learning that is completed annually and as part of the on-boarding process for new employees. 

  • Employees to sign off that they have reviewed protocol, and related video, as part of the annual / orientation. process tracked by Human Resources (September 2022) 
  • Video to be produced that outlines the content of protocol. 


Comprehensive professional learning workshop for guidance, student success teacher and professional student services team.  

  • Partner with community service providers and include voices of individuals with lived experiences to deliver training (2022-2026). 

Anti Sex-trafficking awareness workshop for all staff. 

  • Delivered during a PA Day during the 2022-2023 school year. 
  • Develop the workshop content in collaboration with community partners.  

Develop and release sex/human trafficking resources to all employees. 

  • Develop a Human Trafficking page on the SSWB SharePoint page as a centralized and accessible location for resources (August 2022). 

Workshop on Human Trafficking delivered to new teachers and administrators as part of the SSWB NTIP and new admin presentations. 

  • SSWB portfolio has opportunities to provide ongoing professional learning to new teachers and administrators.  
  • An introductory session, which includes a review of the protocol and available resources will be delivered to these groups of employees starting in the 2022-2023 school year. 


Measuring success: accountability and evaluation 

To support our continuous quality improvement approach, this protocol will be reviewed annually for the first 3 years, and then every other year thereafter. During the first year of implementation, the Ministry of Education will provide support for the review and offer advice and suggestions. TVDSB leaders will participate in the Ministry’s community of practice to further build capacity in this area of work.  

TVDSB, the Ministry of Education and community partners will collaborate to develop a performance measurement framework. This framework will monitor the impact and effectiveness of training, and whether the protocol effectively responds to the needs of students and families. TVDSB and community partners will be invited to participate in the reporting process to the Ministry of Education to determine how the protocol has helped children and youth in care stay out of, or exit, human trafficking.   

TVDSB is committed to being an engaged partner at various community planning tables such as: 

  • Regional Coordinating Committees to End Woman Abuse (Elgin, London, Middlesex, and Oxford) 
  • London Safe Cities (committees and working groups) 
  • Situation Tables (Elgin, London and Oxford) 
  • Community of Practices (i.e., Atlohsa’s Human Trafficking professional network) 
  • TVDSB Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee

TVDSB has identified several accountability and evaluation practices to monitor the impact of this protocol such as: 

  • Collaboration & feedback from community partners/agencies 
  • Tracking the following process indicators: 
    • Number of staff participating in professional learning opportunities and their feedback 
    • Number of participants in family workshops and their feedback 
    • Number of students participating in student awareness initiatives and their feedback 
    • Frequency of employees viewing Human Trafficking SharePoint page 
  • Safe and Inclusive School Plan data 
  • Program data from professional services staff 
  • School Climate survey data related to the Essential Conditions for Learning  
  • Situation Tables statistics 
  • CAS data on referrals received related to concerns about human tracking received from school employees 



Canadian Center to End Human Trafficking. (2021, October 14). Human trafficking trends in Canada (2019-2020)   

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2017, July). Human trafficking and child welfare: A guide for caseworkers  

Children of the Street Society. (n.d.). Addressing the trafficking of children & youth for exploitation in BC: A toolkit for service providers  

Ginwright, S. (2018, May 31). The future of healing: Shifting from trauma informed care to healing centred engagement  

Government of Ontario. (2021, July 6). Policy/Program memorandum 166  

Graham, C. (2021, November 2). Indigenous anti-human trafficking [Presenter]. Human trafficking: Innovative responses created by and for youth and Indigenous communities, London, CA. 

Ibrahim, D. (2021, May 4). Juristat bulletin – Quick fact: Trafficking in persons in Canada, 2019. Statistics Canada.  

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (2019). Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Volume 1a  

Manitoba Government Inquiry. (n.d.). Gender-based violence definitions and terminology. Engage Manitoba.  

School Mental Health Ontario. (n.d.). ONE-CALL desk reference 

Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada. (2014, October). “No more”: Ending sex-trafficking in Canada: Report of the national task force on trafficking women and girls in Canada 

Thames Valley District School Board. (2020). Draft equity action plan: 2020-2022   


Appendix A: Glossary of Additional Terms  
Appendix B: Community Partners Consulted
Appendix C: Summary of the Literature and Resources Reviewed
Appendix D: Plan for Awareness Building for Students


Conflict and Problem Resolution

We are committed to create an environment which fosters mutual respect for the dignity and well-being of all students, staff, parents, and volunteers.

At Thames Valley District School Board, we work to ensure concerns are addressed in a respectful and professional manner that is consistent with the Education Act and all other relevant legislation and Board policies.

The Ontario College of Teachers has information about professional standards of teachers, the accreditation of programs that prepare teachers, and how complaints and discipline are handled.

In addition, the Government of Ontario has granted new powers to the Ontario Ombudsman's Office to investigate complaints against school boards. The Office of the Ontario Ombudsman now has the responsibility to oversee school boards and address matters brought to its attention by members of the public. For more information, visit the Ontario Ombudsman website.

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