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Safe Schools News: Learn more about the Outdoor Learning Space at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School and the connection with Safe Schools. (Photo attached is a rendering of the image.)

Every student deserves to feel and be safe in school, on the school grounds, in school buses and at school events and activities. Everyone from all walks of life in communities across Ontario share this common goal. At HWDSB, we know safety is essential to good learning. Students learn and teachers teach more successfully when schools are safe.

If you have any question, please contact your school Principal, or contact HWDSB to speak with the Superintendent Responsible for Safe Schools.

Safe Schools Action Plan 

On April 6, 2021, staff presented the Safe Schools Action Plan to the Program Committee as part of the Positive Culture & Well-Being Priority. Work is now underway to shape and implement this action plan through collaboration with students, families and community partners.

Safe Schools Review Panel

On October 28, 2019, the Board of Trustees approved a staff report that calls for the formation of a Safe Schools: Bullying Prevention & Intervention Review Panel to provide the Director of Education, Manny Figueiredo, with independent feedback and recommendations on how to prevent, intervene, report and respond to bullying.

Click here for updates.

Safe Schools at HWDSB

At HWDSB, we are committed to making all schools caring and safe places to learn. Our first strategic priority, Positive Culture and Well-being, includes a focus on equity, inclusion, mental health and well-being, safety and acceptance of all staff, students, families and community partners.

We know that bullying exists in our schools and community – and want to do all that we can to prevent it and intervene effectively.

Parents and children should never feel alone or suffer the consequences of bullying in silence. Please tell a teacher, vice-principal or principal at your child’s school immediately if you have a concern.

The Bullying Prevention and Intervention resource contains valuable information for families and students. The resource addresses topics such as what is bullying, what families can do about bullying and much more.

What is bullying?

Bullying is typically a form of repeated, persistent and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause), fear and distress and/or harm to another person’s body, feelings, self-esteem or reputation. Bullying sometimes may also occur in a single event or occurrence.

What should I do if my child is bullied?

  • Listen to your child; assure them that they have a right to be safe.
  • Know the facts about what happened and when.
  • Explain to your child that reporting takes courage and protects others.
  • Please tell your child’s teacher, trusted school staff or the principal or vice-principal.
  • Remain calm so that you can support your child and co-plan a course of action.
  • Stay on course. Watch your child’s behaviour. If meetings with staff don’t stop the bullying, talk to the principal. Follow up on the steps agreed to at the meeting.
  • If bullying occurs during sports or activities, speak to the instructor or coach.
  • Contact police if bullying involves criminal behaviour (e.g. sexual assault, use of a weapon), or threats outside of school.

How to report bullyingHWDSB Helps poster

  1. Please tell your child’s teacher, vice-principal or principal immediately.
  2. If reporting bullying to staff is uncomfortable, students can use the free and anonymous HWDSB Helps service to share a tip about bullying, mental health, substance use and more. Tips are sent to school staff. This is not a crisis line or counselling service.

If you have questions, please contact your school’s principal.

Community Help

  • COAST Hamilton: Mental health crisis line (905) 972-8338; coasthamilton.ca
  • Kids Help Phone: 24/7 counselling for youth, crisis line 1-800-668-6868; kidshelpphone.ca
  • In case of emergency, call 911.

Policy and Procedure

Bullying Prevention and Intervention Policy

Bullying Prevention and Intervention Procedure

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is committed to making each and every one of its schools a caring place that is safe for learning.

Every student deserves to feel and be safe in a school, on the school grounds, on the school bus and at school events and activities. At Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), we know safety is essential to good learning. Students learn and teachers teach more successfully when schools are safe.

What is a Code of Conduct?

The Code of Conduct establishes standards of behaviour that are consistent with the Provincial Code of Conduct and applies to all members of the school community. The Code of Conduct promotes respect within the learning and teaching environment, and sets clear Board and school standards of behaviour.

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board believes that all individuals attending on Board or school property, on school buses, or at school-related events or activities, should be treated with dignity and respect.

The Code of Conduct promotes a positive school climate which is a contributing factor to a safe and orderly environment. It also supports Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s commitment to all who work and engage in our schools feeling safe, supported and accepted.

The purposes of this Code of Conduct are as follows: 

  1. To ensure that all members of the school community, are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of, for example, race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, sex, disability, creed, family status, or socio‐economic status.
  2. To promote responsible citizenship by encouraging appropriate participation in the civic life of the school community.
  3. To maintain an environment where conflict and difference can be addressed in a manner characterized by respect and civility.
  4. To encourage the use of non‐violent means to resolve conflict.
  5. To promote the safety of people in the schools.
  6. To prohibit the use of alcohol, illegal drugs, weapons and firearms.

Roles and Responsibilities


Principals will hold everyone to the highest standard of respectful/responsible behaviour and will take a daily leadership role in the school by:

  • Demonstrating care and commitment to academic excellence in a safe teaching and learning environment
  • Holding everyone, under their authority, accountable for their behaviour and actions
  • Empowering students to be positive leaders in their school and community
  • Communicating regularly and meaningfully with all members of their school community
  • Modeling respect, responsibility, and civility and ensuring these are taught as part of the curriculum
  • Maintaining consistent standards of behaviour for all students

Staff Members

School staff will hold everyone to the highest standard of respectful/responsible behaviour by:

  • Helping students work to their full potential and self-worth
  • Empowering students to be leaders in class, school and community
  • Communicating regularly and meaningfully with parents
  • Maintaining consistent standards of behaviour for all students
  • Demonstrating respect for all members of the school community
  • Promoting positive citizenship


Students demonstrate respect and responsibility when they:

  • Come to school prepared, on time, and ready to learn
  • Show respect for themselves, others and those in authority
  • Refrain from bringing anything to school that may compromise the safety of self or others
  • Demonstrate responsibility for actions or behaviour on or off school property or outside of the school day that would have an impact on the school climate
  • Follow the established rules and take responsibility for their own actions
  • Model the character attributes of Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
  • Demonstrate appropriate participation in the civic life of the community.


Parents support a safe and respectful learning environment when they:

  • Show an active interest in their child’s school work and progress
  • Communicate regularly with school Administrators
  • Help their child be neat, appropriately dressed and prepared for school
  • Ensure that their child attends school regularly and on time
  • Promptly report to the school their child’s absence or late arrival
  • Become familiar with the Code of Conduct and school rules
  • Encourage and assist their child in following the rules of behaviour
  • Assist school staff in dealing with disciplinary issues involving their child.

School Councils

School councils are parent‐directed advisory bodies, representative of all members of the school community. In providing advice to the principal, district and Ministry of Education, school councils will adhere to the standards of behaviour expected in the schools and will:

  • focus their activities on the fundamental goal of improving student learning;
  • play a strong role in fostering participation by parents and partnerships with community groups
  • be proactively involved in plans to improve their schools.


Volunteers provide their services to the school in order to enhance school‐based activities and academic learning. Under the direction of the principal, volunteers participate in both instructional and co‐instructional activities. In fulfilling their role, volunteers will:

  • adhere to the terms of the board and school codes of conduct;
  • make time for, and honour commitments to the activities for which they are volunteering;
  • participate in required screening processes and the training specifically provided to volunteers;
  • and strive to improve their skills in the activities for which they are volunteering.

Respect, Civility and Responsible Citizenship

All members of the school community, including Trustees, Board employees, students, parents, Home and School, School Council, visitors, volunteers, contractors, community members on school premises, while on school buses, at school-related events or activities, or in any other circumstances that could have an impact on the climate of the school must:

  • Respect and comply with all applicable federal, provincial, and municipal laws
  • Demonstrate honesty and integrity
  • Respect differences in people, their ideas, and their opinions
  • Treat one another with dignity and respect at all times, and especially when there is disagreement
  • Respect and treat others fairly, regardless of, for example, race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or ability
  • Respect the rights of others
  • Show proper care and regard for school property and the property of others
  • Take appropriate measures to help those in need
  • Seek assistance from a member of the school staff, if necessary, to resolve conflict peacefully
  • Respect all members of the school community, especially persons in positions of authority
  • Respect the needs of others to work in an environment that is conducive to learning and teaching; and/or not swear at a teacher or at another person in a position of authority.


All members of the school community must not:

  • Engage in any bullying behaviours including cyberbullying
  • Commit sexual assault
  • Traffic weapons or illegal drugs
  • Give drugs or alcohol to a minor
  • Commit theft or robbery (theft with violence)
  • Be in possession of any weapon, including firearms
  • Utter a threat or use any object to threaten or intimidate another person
  • Cause injury to any person with an object
  • Be in possession of, or be under the influence of, or provide others with alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Inflict or encourage others to inflict mental or bodily harm on another person
  • Engage in propaganda and other forms of behaviour motivated by hate or bias
  • Commit an act of vandalism that causes extensive damage to school property or to property located on the premises of the school.


Appropriate Dress

Appropriate dress is attire that is neat, clean, suited to the learning task, and in keeping with a safe, respectful learning environment. Safe and respectful learning environments allow both teaching and learning to occur.

Please note: This is intended for information purposes. It is not suitable for legal advice and is subject to all applicable laws and Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board policies.

HWDSB is committed to building and sustaining a positive school climate for all students in order to support their education so that all students can reach their full potential. The Education Act requires school boards to ensure that measures are in place that consequence inappropriate behaviours and at the same time provide support for students to change those behaviours.

Progressive discipline can range from detentions to expulsions, depending on the infraction. There is a requirement for schools and school boards to consider all and any mitigating circumstances before issuing a consequence for inappropriate behaviours. Mitigating circumstances may alter the consequence; however, it does not mean that there is no consequence. We know through research that suspensions and expulsions by themselves further alienate the very youth who are in the most need of developing strong positive relationships. To help change a student’s behaviour and to promote inclusiveness, relationship-building, and problem solving, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is using Restorative Justice practices and a pyramid of interventions to address progressive discipline.

For more information, read the Safe & Caring Pamphlet: Progressive Discipline.

Progressive Discipline in Elementary Schools


  • Clear and Transparent Communication
  • Comprehensive Literacy/ Differentiated Instruction/ Early Identification
  • Student Success
  • Safe Schools (includes Bullying Prevention)
  • Character Development
  • Boys to Men
  • G.O. Girls
  • Physical School Environment and School Climate
  • Classroom Management / Student Engagement
  • Caring / “Go-to” Staff Member

School-wide and In-class Preventions and Strategies

  • Staff Development/ Professional Learning Communities
  • Special Education—Individual Education Plans/ Safe Intervention Plans/NVCI
  • Educational Assistants, Social Workers, Special Education Services
  • Student/Instruction centered timetable
  • School Code of Conduct
  • Communication Tools (e.g. Student agendas)
  • Award Systems, Assemblies, Celebrations of Success
  • Extra-curricular activities, Student leadership/ Peer Mentors/ Co-op students
  • Student/Peer Mediation
  • Empowerment Opportunities
  • Parental Participation
  • Social Models
  • Specialized and Personalized Learning

In-School Interventions and Strategies

  • Problem Solving Model Reflection Activity
  • 1:1 Conference with student or group
  • Contract
  • Temporary Break
  • Attendance Support Strategies
  • Alternative Learning Environment
  • Loss of Privileges
  • In-School Community Service
  • Restorative Justice Strategies
  • Family Strategies
  • HWDSB Student Support Services
  • Referral to a community or medical agency/ program

Board Intervention Programs and Services

  • Special Education Services
  • Communication Services, Psychological Services, Social Work Services,
  • Care Treatment and Correctional Facilities
  • Alternative Education Programs
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

Progressive Discipline in Secondary Schools

Download the Pyramids of Intervention document.

Restorative Justice

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice is a set of principles and values designed to respond to harm in a different way. In simple terms, restorative action asks: “What is it we want to see happen when someone creates harm in our school or our community?” We would answer that question this way: ‘When harm has been committed, there are three groups whose needs must be meaningfully met.

The groups involved include:

  • Those who have been harmed
  • Those who have caused harm
  • The school or community

Students at both ends of the spectrum need to have greater opportunities to be reintegrated back into school and community as healthy, cooperative members of society while doing this in safe environment. A focus on character development includes student engagement and supporting youth empowerment, which includes building a student’s capacity to learn and grow while contributing to a positive school climate and a strong community.

Our Partners in Restorative Justice

The Restorative Justice Program is a partnership between HWDSB, The John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington and Area, Hamilton Police Services and Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Learn more

Learn more about Restorative Justice.

Mental health affects us all – and has real impacts on our lives. At HWDSB, we are committed to supporting the mental health and well-being of all students and staff. We believe that this is much more than the absence of illness. We embrace Public Health Canada’s definition of positive mental health as:

“the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and social well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity.”

Schools are an ideal place to help promote and support student mental health and well-being. Please explore our initiatives and supports below, and reach out if you have questions.​​

Get Help – Emergency

COAST Hamilton
Mental health crisis outreach and support for all ages.
Crisis Line (905) 972-8338; coasthamilton.ca

Kids Help Phone
24/7 counselling and information service for young people.
Crisis Line 1-800-668-6868; kidshelpphone.ca

McMaster Children’s Hospital: Child and Youth Mental Health Emergency Services (CHYMES)
McMaster Located within the emergency department for youth age 17 and younger.
1200 Main St W, Hamilton, ON L8N 3Z5

Call 911

HWDSB Helps posterHWDSB Helps is a free and anonymous way for students to find help for themselves and one another. Tips may relate to student mental health, bullying, substance use and more. When students, staff and families help promote a positive school environment, schools are safer and more welcoming places. The service receives anonymous messages and shares the report with staff who follow existing Board and school protocols. This is not a crisis line or counselling service.

Get help or share anonymous tips using…

  • Text to 905-963-0066. Standard rates apply.

  • The HWDSB Helps app for iOS and Android.

  • Web chat
    In case of emergency, call 911.

If you have questions, please contact your school’s principal.

To support our schools and community, HWDSB has introduced resources including:

The Bullying Prevention and Intervention resource contains valuable information for families and students. The resource addresses topics such as what is bullying, what families can do about bullying and much more.

Updated on Tuesday, January 24, 2017.
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