Studies show reduction in bullying, increase in reporting incidents
BROOKDALE – Students at Cumberland North Academy are keeping their wits about them, and its proving positive.
© Christopher Gooding photo
It’s a new year for students at Cumberland North Academy and RCMP Const. Travis Dow, the Amherst Lions and the Amherst Fire Department partnered with Mount Alison varsity athletes to kick-off the positive, anti-bullying curriculum offered to students, WITS.
The anti-bullying WITS program –walk away, ignore, talk it out, seek help – is entering its second year at the Brookdale school and thanks to Cumberland RCMP, the Amherst Fire Dept., the Amherst Lions, and Mount Allison varsity athletes, the program was give a reboot into 2014. Since its inception, the number of schools across Canada using the program has tripled, but Cumberland North Academy has the distinction of being one the first schools in Cumberland County using the program.
“This is a constant message in the classroom and through the support of teachers,” Cumberland RCMP Const. Travis Dow said. “It’s based on healthy choices, through a curriculum, and the older children start using it for problem solving skills. They learn to analyze.”
But the most important lesson learned through the program, Dow said, is to seek help.
“There’s always a component to seek help,” Dow said. “Far to often – and grown ups are guilty of this, too – we don’t seek help at the end of the day.”
The success of the program has witnessed reduced bullying activity and an increase in reporting bullying by peers, Dow said. It’s accomplishments like these that have caught the interest of professionals and the program’s performance is now under a third review to chronicle its merits.
“The summary of the previous two studies found a reduction in activity and increase in reporting activity, so they’re learning how to do it.”
WITS consistent message, Dow said, matches up with many anti-bullying messages in the schools, like Stand Up and Speak Out and in 2013 was the recipient of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Partnership Awards.
Today, the WITS Programs have spread to more than 400 schools across Canada and the United States, earning endorsements from several organizations and the program’s delivery is through schools, families, communities and kids, too.
“Anyone can be a leader with the WITS program,” Dow said. “It’s not just an RCMP tool.”
Online, learn more about the program at www.witsprogram.ca.