The original Safe and Caring Schools Initiative (SACS) was launched in 1996 in response to two provincial forums on school violence. The first forum was held in November 1993 to begin to understand the issues related to school violence and identify potential strategies that would ensure safe schools. Participants returned to a follow-up forum in 1994 to share successful initiatives undertaken in their communities. The Minister emphasized that the goal was to lay the necessary foundations to ensure that schools were safe environments that supported respectful and responsible behaviour.
The early stages of the provincial SACS initiative involved resource development, research and conferences. The ATA developed preventative programs, materials and workshops related to SACS. In 1999, the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge published Building Foundations for Safe and Caring Schools – Research on Disruptive Behaviour and Violence.
In June 1999, the School Act was amended to include a section on safe and caring schools. Section 45(8) reads:
“A board shall ensure that each student enrolled in a school operated by the board is provided with a safe and caring environment that fosters and maintains respectful and responsible behaviours.”
In 2004 the Alberta Teacher’s Association SACS Project was incorporated as The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities (SACSC) and assumed the lead for the provincial work related to the original Safe and Caring Schools Initiative. Alberta Education along with the cross-ministry partners continues to support school authorities through the development of resources and the provincial prevention of bullying work to eliminate violence in our schools. As a result of the cross-ministry initiatives, school authorities have a number of options to facilitate the maintenance of safe and caring environments, including the development of policies, procedures, strategies and resources that foster and maintain respectful and responsible behaviours.