Impact study puts WITS at top for bullying prevention

Social Sciences

Ceremony for new WITS Special Constables.

The UVic-led victimization prevention program for children—Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help (WITS)—received top marks earlier this month from Dalhousie University researchers, taking first place when compared to six other international bullying prevention programs. More than 600 schools across Canada have used the program.

The Dalhousie team reviewed seven popular bullying prevention programs; some are used in Nova Scotia schools and others were identified through a search of scientific literature. Of the seven, only one—WITS—could be recommended based on its effectiveness.

“Promoting healthy relationships is the very foundation of WITS,” says Bonnie Leadbeater, UVic psychology professor and co-developer of WITS. “The Dalhousie study is the first review to really recognize the value of our positive approach to ending bullying by promoting caring relationships and responding to children’s requests for help with peer conflicts.”

The WITS program (www.witsprogram.ca) was created at Lampson Street Elementary School in 1993 by principal Judi Stevenson and school police liaison Tom Woods, founder of the Rock Solid Foundation. Leadbeater joined the team in 1998 and continued to develop, evaluate and implement WITS which is currently being used in 280 BC schools.

The program received support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as many local donors.

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Keywords: bullying, children, psychology, community, research

People: Bonnie Leadbeater


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