For Immediate Release
October 5, 2012
School and community leaders working against violence in schools
GUELPH, Ontario -- : In the aftermath of violent incidents in schools we often ask ourselves, “Didn’t anyone see this coming?”
Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, followed eight days later by a high school shooting in Taber, Alberta, school officials and community services have known that they need to do everything possible to curb the potential for violence directed at students, staff and school visitors.
Providing a safe learning environment is the focus of the Violence Threat Risk Assessment Protocol (VTRA), a collaborative partnership between the Upper Grand and Wellington Catholic district school boards, local police services and child/youth service agencies in Wellington and Dufferin counties. The Protocol will be introduced to senior educational administrators and community service leaders at an information session on Tuesday, October 9 from 3:30 to 5:30 at Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum.
The protocol helps schools respond quickly to threatening incidents such as:
- Possession of a weapon or replica weapon
- Bomb threat or plan
- Verbal, written or internet threats to kill or injure oneself or others
- Fire setting
- Sexual intimidation or assault
Early intervention strategies are developed by multidisciplinary VTRA teams who are trained in the theory and practice of threat-risk assessment. The teams may include the principal or vice-principal, a social worker, child and youth counselor, psychology staff as well as school resource police officers.
The information session on Tuesday will be led by Kevin Cameron, the Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response. Cameron has been training front line workers including school administrators and staff, and community professionals in the counties of Wellington and Dufferin. Additional training sessions are planned for these workers later this month and in January. Over 50% of Canadian school boards are using the VRTA protocol.
The school boards sent letters to parents early in this school year to inform them of the VTRA protocol.
Personal information shared throughout the process respects and balances each individual’s right to privacy with the need to ensure the safety of all. Parents are notified if their child is discussed, and are asked to consent. If, consent is not granted but a concern for safety exists due to threatening behaviour, the assessment may still proceed.
Introducing the concepts of the VRTA protocol to school and child and youth agency leaders will promote greater awareness and understanding of the model. It will enhance the joint efforts of the community to identify and support children and youth who may be on the pathway to violence.
Community partners include:
- Upper Grand District School Board
- Wellington Catholic District School Board
- Guelph Police Services
- Wellington O.P.P.
- Family and Children’s Services of Guelph/Wellington
- Guelph General Hospital
- Trellis Mental Health and Development Services
- Youth Justice Services
- Dufferin O.P.P.
- Orangeville Police Services
- Shelburne Police Services, Dufferin Child and Family Services
For more information:
Maggie McFadzen, Communications Officer
519-822-4420 ext. 725