RCMP To Pilot BC Bullying Prevention Program In Rural Canada

Youth bullying knows no boundaries. Both urban and rural children are subjected to the damaging behaviour that erodes their mental health and can lead to suicide. Youth in Canada’s remote communities are particularly vulnerable. A new partnership between the RCMP, youth organizations and researchers from the University of Victoria will train RCMP youth officers to assist schools and rural communities in delivering a successful BC anti-bullying program where it’s never been offered before.

Recently six RCMP officers from across Canada received training in Ottawa in the evidence-based WITS Program (for Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out and Seek help), developed through a UVic-community partnership, to help them better understand and prevent bullying in elementary school education. The officers will put their training to use in the rural communities of: Campbellton, New Brunswick; Morris, Manitoba; Bonavista NFLD; St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia; Consort, Alberta; and Cut Knife, Saskatchewan.

“The primary goal of the program is to create communities that are responsive to the prevention of peer victimization and bullying,” says Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater, who developed the WITS program. “Many rural communities do not have a WITS program; these officers will play a central role in assisting school staff, parents, and community leaders in taking a unified approach to reducing bullying in their communities.”

Funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the project builds on a unique partnership that links the RCMP’s National Youth Officers Program with leaders of: PREVNet, a national network of Canadian researchers and youth serving organizations; the Rock Solid Foundation, a not-for-profit crime prevention group in Victoria, BC; and researchers from the University of Victoria.

The RCMP provides youth officer services for approximately 5,000 schools in Canada, many in rural and Aboriginal communities, however crime prevention is a responsibility for all RCMP officers.

“The RCMP recognizes that our communities and our partners are critical to ensuring successful outcomes for our youth,” says Insp. Shelly Dupont, the officer in charge of the RCMP’s National Crime Prevention Services. “Through the dedication of our officers, we support our youth by providing them with the skills and knowledge to recognize, report and address inappropriate actions and build positive relationships.”

UVic researchers will evaluate the impact of introducing WITS to the initial six rural Canadian communities and then will discuss with the RCMP the potential for further expansion. For more information about WITS visit http://web.uvic.ca/wits/

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Media contacts

>Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater (Psychology) at 250-721-7523 or bleadbea@uvic.ca

Anne MacLaurin (Social Sciences Communications) at 250-217-4259 or sosccomm@uvic.ca

Cpl. Ajit Tiwana (RCMP Media Relations) at 613-843-6974

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Keywords: rcmp, pilot, bc, bullying, prevention, progr, rural, canada

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