Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Becky Druhan addresses the crowd during the signing ceremony for the Mi’kmaq Education Agreement May 30, at Province House. (Communications Nova Scotia)

HALIFAX: The following is a statement from Becky Druhan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, on Auditor General’s Report on Preventing, Addressing School Violence.

Everyone deserves to feel safe, and nowhere is a feeling of safety and belonging more important than in our schools.

To that end, I want to assure all students, families and people working in Nova Scotia schools that preventing and addressing violence in schools is a priority for our government.

Early this school year, I directed my Department to put a specific focus on strengthening tools that support safe schools. Work is underway to:
– update the Provincial School Code of Conduct Policy
– improve how we collect incident data, ensuring our processes support just culture, prompt reporting and effective action in response to violence in schools
– develop a new student behaviour strategy that includes strengthened supports for social emotional learning, helping to proactively address root causes of unacceptable behaviours including violence.

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As good data helps us make the best decisions, in November, I wrote directly to teachers encouraging them to report every intentional and unintentional incident of unacceptable behaviour, including violent behaviours.

The Department is working urgently and has already made progress that aligns closely with the recommendations from the Office of the Auditor General.

This alignment helps confirm we – along with our safe school leadership table partners from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and Public School Administrators Association of Nova Scotia – are moving in the right direction.

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I also agree with the Office of the Auditor General that parents, guardians and the wider community play an essential role in keeping violence out of schools.

I know students, parents and school staff are eager to see change.

I am as well, and I am committed to providing regular updates on our work to prevent and address violence in schools as we work together to build a system where everyone feels safe and supported.