Behavioural Norm > Be Safe


The violation of the physical and emotional safety of students in schools is commonplace. This may take the form of bullying, humiliation, intimidation, harassment, rejection, and cliques and gangs.

Learning about who and what to trust provides strategies for surviving these violations.

There are degrees of trust, of course. Trust is relational, building connections with other people. In teaching about trust, an understanding of mistrust is essential. Mistrust provides us with wisdom in decision-making. It teaches us to ask questions and to develop a critical eye.

When we teach the differences between trust and mistrust, we aim to give students wisdom that will last a lifetime. Trusting self is also an aspect of Be Safe.


Be Safe Outcomes



When we have come to believe that those around us have a genuine and demonstrable concern for our well-being, we feel emotionally safe. This trust is gained via repetitious experiences where this concern is demonstrated consistently over time.



Given that not every interaction is going to be emotionally safe, it is important for students to have a clear sense of when this is happening and how to respond without self-blame and doubt. They must not be victimized.


Responding Rather Than Reacting

This involves practising self-regulation; to be able to pause, take a breath, and not go with your first instinct to lash out when feeling emotionally compromised. It is also recognizing the psychological feedback from one’s body (eg clenching fists, tightness in the chest, etc) and understanding what this might mean in terms of the potential for overreaction.



The ability to self-regulate is essential to maintaining a school environment free of harassment, intimidation, and bullying. When confronted with an interaction that holds the potential for wielding hurtful power and control over another student, this skill initiates a process where the students know to stop, walk away and, if need be, ask for help. Self-regulation also works to prevent piling on, when a crowd of students form around two antagonists to derive some vicarious pleasure. If there is no one to pile on, when one of the two antagonists refuses to be victimized, this leaves the bully powerless.


Feeling Secure

Forming secure attachments with those around us begins very early in life. Caregivers who provide unconditional positive regard and who resonate with the feelings of their children build and maintain emotional safety. Their responsiveness legitimizes feelings that children have while providing a safe space for talking about how the thoughts and behaviours connected to those feelings can affect others. Beyond showing empathy for the experience of another, a secure attachment offers opportunities for emotional healing and the repair of compromised relationships.


Welcoming Authentic Interaction

The willingness to listen. The willingness to take risks in self-disclosure.


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Extracted & adapted from The Full Value School: A Social-Emotional Learning Community