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Gatineau, November 4, 2014 – The Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau (SPVG) today launched two new programs to increase awareness, entitled "V.I.P. (Violence-Intimidation/Bullying-Prevention Partners)" for primary schools, and "P.E.A.C.E." (Protecting Everyone And Creating Equality) for secondary schools. These programs were developed by the SPVG's Division recherche, développement et stratégie organisationnelle following consultations with school staff, parents, youth members of the Commission jeunesse de la Ville de Gatineau, police officers from the Résolutions et actions préventives de quartier section, and a joint project with the Centre de placement spécialisé du Portage. These new programs succeed the intimidation/taxage.ca program, which has been offered in schools for the last ten years or so. This approach is consistent with the application of bill 56, which was passed on June 12, 2012 by the National Assembly, entitled An Act to Prevent and Stop Bullying and Violence in Schools. This bill specifies the duties and responsibilities of the school and police partners in order to ensure that every student can develop his or her full potential, free from any form of intimidation/bullying or violence.
An issue that affects one out of three children
A survey of 63,200 students from 470 comprehensive schools in Quebec, whose results were released in May 2013 by the Institut de la statistique du Québec, reveals that one out of three secondary school students claims to have been a victim of violence at least once during the school year at schools or on the way to or from school, or online. Violence and intimidation/bullying at school can take several forms, including discrimination, homophobia, physical violence, indirect aggression, taxing or cyberbullying.
SPVG police chief Mario Harel wants the public and the schools to be better equipped to understand the phenomenon of violence and intimidation/bullying, to detect when it happens, and to intervene in an effective manner: "The issues related to violence and intimidation/bullying among young people have changed a lot over the years, and we are proud this morning to launch these renewed and innovative programs that are adapted to today's world. Schools already do a number of things to prevent and address violence and intimidation/bullying. However, the SPVG wants to provide tangible and effective support to schools."
An innovative approach that is ahead of its time
This project, which was piloted by Isabelle Plante, the SPVG official responsible for analysis and research into crime and prevention, took 18 months to come together, with contributions from dozens of different resources: "In addition to carrying out a number of consultations, we studied what was being done elsewhere, and took the time to test our programs by developing pilot projects in six schools. Today, we are proud to present a turnkey program for schools to support them in their fight against intimidation/bullying and violence."
Among the many awareness tools developed are a few short videos illustrating a dozen situations and consequences, featuring young actors and other volunteers. These skits address intimidation/bullying through social media and risky practices associated with certain communication tools most commonly used by teens.
Students, their parents and teachers, school staff and police will find tools in "V.I.P. Partners" and "P.E.A.C.E." that will enable them to collectively engage in this important fight against intimidation/bullying and violence.
A very good response from schools
The program was presented to local school boards and private institutions in mid-October, and was very well received. Within just a few weeks, 80% of the primary schools (41 out of 51) signed up for "V.I.P. Partners", and every comprehensive and public and private high school in Gatineau signed up for the "P.E.A.C.E.." program. They will also be offered in English schools starting in early 2015, once the kits have been translated. Bernard Dufour, executive director of the Commission scolaire des draveurs, wanted to congratulate the SPVG on its work: "The "V.I.P. Partners" and "P.E.A.C.E." programs meet a real need in our schools, and we are working together in this battle against violence and intimidation/bullying. We are grateful to the SPVG for having developed these new tools, and for making them available to us."
Upcoming discussions about the social media
As part of the launch of these two new programs, Gatineau residents will soon be invited to take part in a live discussion on social media about preventing violence and intimidation/bullying in schools. SPVG police working with schools, and criminologists who took part in developing the "V.I.P. Partners" and "P.E.A.C.E." programs, will answer residents' questions and invite them to join in the fight. This chat session will take place in late November, on the SPVG Facebook page (www.facebook.com/policegatineau) and Twitter account (@policegatineau).