RCMP to pilot BC bullying prevention program in rural Canada

- Anne MacLaurin

 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, NB; Morris, MB; Bonavista NL; St. Peter’s, NS; Consort, AB; and Cut Knife, SK.

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.

“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 (psychology), 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.”

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: http://web.uvic.ca/wits/

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Keywords: bullying, RCMP, youth

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