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BC education ministry wants school gang, gun violence assessments | #schoolsaftey

The ministry has issued a request for proposal to support its “Expect Respect and A Safe Education” strategy.

The Ministry of Education is seeking educational and security experts on gang and gun violence, online bullying, sextortion and other student safety issues for B.C. schools.

The ministry posted a request for proposal (RFP) on BCBid June 16, seeking a contractor to provide services in support of the provincial safety and wellness strategy. The objective? Create safe and caring B.C. schools.

That strategy is known as Expect Respect and A Safe Education (ERASE).

“To support ERASE, the ministry works with subject matter experts and safety leaders to ensure B.C. schools have the resources, tools and the supports they need to support school safety,” the ministry said in a statement. 

“Since 2012, this has included contracting for provincial school safety services to ensure supports are available to students and schools 24/7.”

The ministry told Glacier Media that within the RFP, a critical incident is defined as “a safety issue or situation where a school district requires additional support from contracted subject matter experts to respond.”

And that may vary between school districts.

“Examples could include addressing conflict or worrisome behaviour between students, providing trauma supports for school communities in the event of unexpected loss, or working with community partners to ensure targeted supports are in place for students needing focused intervention,” the ministry said.

The ministry’s allocated funding for the services is $415,000 but it has discretion to fund up to $1 million to meet demands subject to internal approvals.

The proposal’s request identifies categories of concern as:

  • bullying/cyberbullying, harassment;
  • social media;
  • sextortion;
  • inappropriate sexual behaviour;
  • concerns about adults;
  • concerns about a school;
  • racism/discrimination;
  • gender-based violence;
  • drugs or alcohol;
  • weapons or gang activity;
  • threats;
  • violence or fighting, and;
  • mental health concerns.

The documents provide a number of definitions including that of gun violence. That is described as, “violence that involves the use or threat of a firearm. It includes homicide, violent crime, attempted suicide, suicide and unintentional death and injury.”

Overall, violence is described as, “the intentional use of power or physical force against another person or group, with the behaviour likely to cause physical or psychological harm to another individual, group of individuals (e.g., a school community), or broader. Examples of violence include bullying, fighting (e.g., punching, slapping, kicking), gun violence and weapon use, digitally facilitated violence and bullying, gang violence, gender-based violence and sexualized violence.”

ERASE supports the 60 public school districts, independent school authorities and First Nations schools.

“The safety of students and staff in B.C. schools is a long-standing top priority for the Ministry of Education and Child Care,” the ministry said. “Students who have strong connections to a school where they feel welcome and safe are healthier and do better academically.”

Among tools the ministry is seeking from the contract winner are the creation of an anonymous online reporting tool for worrisome behaviour, risk assessments, educational programs and critical incident response services in the event of safety threat incidents.

“The RFP has been issued to ensure supports continue to be in place for B.C. schools throughout next year and into the future,” the ministry said. “It intends to reflect a wide range of potential school safety concerns and incidents to ensure that services meet the diverse needs of school communities across B.C.”

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