Safe Schools - Students

TVDSB is committed to ensuring that it provides learning and working environments that are safe, accepting, and inclusive for allFeeling unsafe or excluded? Need information to make safe online decisionsLooking to find out how to find allies and caring adults at your school? 

Wanting to ensure your voice is heardWe invite you to explore this pageincluding the tips, resources, and opportunities to share your voice. 

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.

A triangle representing the "Essential Conditions for Learning" with tiered titles: Relationships, Feel Safe, Be Connected, Get Regulated, Learn

Schools are about learning in a safe and caring learning environment. For effective learning to take place, you need to feel safe, connected, and welcome. You, your family, school staff, and the community have the right to expect that schools are safe and free of violence. 

The triangle image centers on the Essential Conditions for Learning focusing on the values of safety, relationships, compassion, and a strength-based approach in all learning environments. Caring and consistent relationships between you and school staff act as the foundation when creating a classroom where you feel safe, connected, and regulated, and can participate in your learning.This happens when staff get to know you, respond to your cues, and adjust supports and interventions. When these strategies and practices are used within the classroom with the Essential Conditions for Learning, overall mental health and well-being is supported, allowing for you to be available for learning. 

For additional information regarding the Essential Conditions for Learning and resources supporting these ideas, please visit the 'Safe Schools and Well-Being' Families and Caregivers webpage'.

Bullying Prevention and Intervention

All TVDSB students deserve to learn in a place where they feel safe and supported. We want to know about incidents of bullying or other safety concerns, and we encourage you to report them as soon as they occur, so that we can address them and act to prevent further incidents from happening.  Speak with a teacher, school staff, or school administration to provide information about the situation. Some people may not feel comfortable reporting bullying or school safety incidents. To help ease this worry, students and parents are welcome to use the Anonymous Reporting Form found on each school website.

The information you provide is forwarded to the appropriate school administrator for action. The more detailed this information is, the better we 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.

Conflict vs. Bullying

People sometimes confuse conflict with bullying, but they are different. While bullying and conflict are separate, they can be experienced at the same time in different ways. It is important to be able to know and identify the difference between the two because conflict between students does not always lead to bullying.

Conflict occurs between people who have a disagreement, a difference of opinion, or different views. When there is conflict, each person feels comfortable sharing their ideas to settle the differences and come to a resolution. On the other hand, bullying is aggressive behaviour that is typically repeated over time and can happen when there is a real or possible power imbalance. It is meant to cause harm, fear, distress, or create a negative setting for another person.

The connection between these two concepts is further explored below:

  • 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.

Understanding Conflict vs. Bullying

Do you know the difference between conflict, rude, and mean behaviours, or bullying? Check out and refer to this quick reference guide which compares the four terms.

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

Problem-Solving Conflict 'Universal Way of Addressing Concern' - Stop It - Name It - Explain It - Ask for Change

This four-step model can be used to help problem-solve incidents of conflict and bullying, if they arise. Before using this approach to address a concern, it is recommended that you consult a trusted adult to ensure proper understanding and comfort level. It may be implemented across all age levels, including Kindergarten to Grade 12.

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, or 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.

What To Do If You Are Being Bullied
By working with your school to help you handle bullying, you are leading by example and giving a clear message that bullying is wrong.

If you find yourself in a bullying situation, the following steps are recommended:

  • Stay calm and walk away from the situation;
  • Tell an adult you trust, for example your family/caregivers, a teacher, educational assistant, principal, school bus driver, or lunchroom supervisor;
  • Report it anonymously to your school or school board using the Anonymous Reporting Form;
  • Talk about it with siblings or with friends; and
  • Call Kids Help Phone (toll-free) 1-800-668-6868

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

Supporting Resources

Bullying - What Kids Need to Know
If bullying is affecting your life, you can find help using this website. Whether you are being bullied, witnessing it happen, or notice that you are engaging in bullying behavior, you can find useful tips and information here.  Remember, you don’t have to deal with this on your own.

Bullying - What Teens Need to Know
This website, geared towards helping teens deal with bullying, contains information and links to a variety of useful resources such as: What you need to know about bullying, how you can stand-up to bullying, and ways to stop yourself from participating in bullying. It also addresses how to take responsibility for repairing relationships damaged by bullying and provides a link that talks about the legal consequences of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying – What Teens Can Do
This website, geared towards helping teens deal with cyberbullying, contains several helpful tips for safe and acceptable online behaviour, as well as addressing the legal consequences of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying Hurts - Respect for Rights in the Digital Age (Youth Guide)

In this report, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights examines ways to address cyberbullying. This guide was co-created through conversations with experts in the field and Canadian youth.

Link: Cyberbullying Hurts: Respect for Rights in the Digital Age (Youth Guide)

Bullying Canada - Giving Bullied Kids a Brighter Future
Bullying Canada is a national anti-bullying charity solely dedicated to creating a brighter future for bullied youth. Their team of more than 350 highly trained volunteers are available 24/7 to provide support services. Visit their website, call, text, or email anytime using the details below:   
Call or Text: (877) 352-4497

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 Approaches and Peer Power

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/Restorative questioning​;
  • Repair harm and transform conflict​; and
  • Are 80% proactive strategies (e.g., Conversations and Community Circles​)

Looking for More Resources to Support Your Understanding of Restorative Practices?

This poster illustrates the nine interconnected elements of Restorative Practices. These elements create caring and healthy communities. The circle represents the individual and group needs that must be addressed so that all can be successful. At the centre of the circle are the words “well-being and student achievement”, highlighting the important role Restorative Practices play in supporting well-being and learning. 

View the Poster

How to Use Restorative Practices Everyday

When conflict or unfortunate circumstances occur, consider these restorative questions as you reflect upon the situation:

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 'Time to Think: Using Restorative Questions', International Institute for Restorative Practices, 2012)

Safe School, Well-Being, and Equity Awards

During the month of June, the Thames Valley District School Board presented Student Leadership Awards in Safe Schools, Well-Being, and Equity to one student from every school (elementary and secondary), including students enrolled in Full Remote Learning. Administrators and school staff were invited to select the award winner for their school based on the criteria of a person who positively impacted the culture of the school environment through contributions within safe schools, mental health and well-being, equity education.

This initiative was an excellent opportunity to promote the outstanding accomplishments of Thames Valley students in the area of Safe Schools, Well-Being, and Equity.

Your Voice Matters

We invite students, staff, and families to share their views about the climate at their/their child's school. As part of the school climate feedback process, we want to raise awareness about what positive school climate is, why it matters, and how everyone contributes to and is impacted by the climate at school.

Want your VOICE heard?

TVDSB provides opportunities for different groups of students to come together to discuss their learning experiences at school. These groups currently include; Students Trustees, Muslim Student Support Group (found under the heading 'Support Groups for Muslim Students' tab), the BIPOC Student Group, Student Senators, and the Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (found under the heading 'Administrative Committees').

If you are interested in participating in these groups, please reach out to your school principal for more information.  

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