BC Government: Gang prevention program expands to keep more students safe

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BC Government: Gang prevention program expands to keep more students safe

by ahnationtalk on December 5, 2019163 Views

Dec. 5, 2019

SURREY – More at-risk students will get the supports they need to get off the path to gang life through the expansion of the Erase (expect respect and a safe education) school-based gang and gun violence prevention program.

The Province is investing an additional $4.93 million over the next three years to provide immediate support to students, parents, educators, law enforcement and community partners through gang prevention and awareness training programs in Campbell River, Chilliwack, Courtenay and Hope. The funding, building on $1.12 million previously announced for the program in March 2019, will also provide ongoing support in the 12 previously named communities: Abbotsford, Burnaby, Delta, Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, Nanaimo, Prince George, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria and Williams Lake.

“Too often, we hear about the devastating effects of gang life on B.C. youth and their families, which is why we’re taking targeted action and offering intensive supports in B.C. communities that need help the most,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “By focusing on training and prevention, we are taking important action to support young people earlier and give parents, schools and communities a way to work together toward positive futures.”

The gang prevention program, in its second year, provides education and training opportunities for students, parents, educators, law enforcement officials and representatives of community-based organizations.

The new funding, announced by Fleming and Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, will offer stakeholders newly developed training and resources focused on gang and gun violence prevention. Student and parent education sessions on gun and gang violence prevention will also be tailored for each community. To date, more than 8,000 students, parents, educators and community partners have participated in 110 training and education sessions in the initial 12 priority communities.

Each of the 16 priority school districts will receive grants to support the development of local programming, such as after-school clubs and other supports for at-risk youth. The new funding will also provide localized monthly reports on public social media activity related to gang activity to all 60 B.C. school districts.

“Our government is committed to supporting youth in B.C. who might be struggling with finding a constructive pathway forward,” Farnworth said. “Prevention and intervention at the community level are important parts of combating gun and gang violence. That’s why we continue to invest in programs like this that support our law enforcement partners, schools and communities in curbing violence and saving young lives.”

Safer Schools Together, the Ministry of Education’s service-delivery partner for the student safety components of Erase, is continuing to develop a new resource for B.C. educators, connected to the provincial physical and health education curriculum. The new resource will be made available in early 2020 and will include informational videos and a teacher’s guide to help students develop healthy relationships, avoid unsafe or exploitive situations and protect themselves from harm.

Learn More:

To learn more about the Erase school-based gang and gun prevention program, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/erase/school-safety

To learn more about Erase strategy resources for students, parents and education professionals, visit: www.erase.gov.bc.ca

For students worried about something at school or in their personal lives and interested in letting an adult in their district know who can help resolve the situation, visit: www.erasereportit.gov.bc.ca

To view gang prevention resources for parents, visit the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit B.C. website: www.cfseu.bc.ca/end-gang-life

Two backgrounders follow.

Contacts:

Ministry of Education
Media Relations
250 356-5963

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Media Relations
250 213-3602


BACKGROUNDER 1

What people are saying about the expansion of Erase

Teri Mooring, president, British Columbia Teachers’ Federation –

“Our students are facing growing challenges, particularly in online spaces, around bullying, negativity and recruitment into gangs or toxic ideologies. It’s very encouraging to see the government expand the Erase program into new communities to ensure more teachers, parents, students and community members have the tools they need to support youth in positive ways.”

Garry Begg, MLA for Surrey-Guildford –

“This provincewide program, now in its second year, is doing a tremendous job of providing community-specific supports to ensure B.C. students get the help they need to stay away from the gang life. To date, more than 600 Surrey students have participated in gang awareness training sessions, which give them tools and information to make healthy choices to keep them and their communities safe.”

Theresa Campbell, CEO, Safer Schools Together –

“We are pleased and excited about the continuation and expansion of the provincial Erase strategy to include a focus on gang and gun violence prevention in B.C. schools. Prevention and early intervention requires a commitment to co-operation, collaboration and communication among all community agencies. Through the Erase K-12 Gang and Gun Violence Prevention Action Plan, government, schools, police and other service providers are working collaboratively to intervene in the lives of young people engaged in gang-associated behaviour, identify and intervene with those on the pathway to gang and gun violence.”

Laurie Larsen, chair, Surrey school district –

“Our district is pleased to be among the 16 priority communities directly benefiting from this program, which is truly making a difference in students’ lives. We all want to keep our children safe, and this program is giving all those involved in their education the means of doing so.”

Jordan Tinney, superintendent, Surrey school district –

“I’m pleased to see that the Erase school-based gang and gun violence prevention program is being expanded from 12 to 16 communities this year. Hundreds of students in Surrey alone have already benefited from the gang awareness training delivered by experts in the field, and with this expansion, even more B.C. students will have access to life-changing training and educational opportunities. What is also exciting is the program offers community-focused supports, meaning students in the priority communities will receive programming that is tailor-made to suit their specific needs.”

Lisa Sutherland, parent, North Surrey Secondary PAC member –

“I’m grateful this funding will ensure that schools have access to a team of professionals who know the needs of the community, and who can provide training on how to see the warning signs of gang influence. This will help guide students to make informed choices so they can stay safe.”

Jesse Ralen, Surrey Wraparound Program alumna, graduate of Surrey Transition Education Program –

“As young people, we want to feel safe when we’re at school so we can focus on our futures. Programs like the ones I was involved in when I was in school and the one being announced today can help us do that by making sure we have access to the supports to make decisions that keep us on the right track. We all have one chance at this life; live it right!”

Contacts:

Ministry of Education
Media Relations
250 356-5963

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Media Relations
250 213-3602


BACKGROUNDER 2

More facts about gang prevention

  • The Province recently announced new comprehensive guidelines for schools and police to support greater collaboration, ensure consistent response to school safety incidents and provide supports for students when they need them most.
  • In October 2017, government announced annual funding of $500,000 for the Surrey Wraparound Program, commonly known as Surrey Wrap.
  • An additional $2.4 million is being provided to the Gang Exiting and Outreach Program over the next three years, to support those seeking to exit the gang lifestyle.
  • The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit B.C.’s End Gang Life school presentations have been delivered to more than 25,000 secondary, middle and elementary school students around B.C. Through partnership with the Vancouver Police Department, they will also be brought to Vancouver schools.
  • B.C. will receive $5.3 million in funding over two years from the federal government’s Initiative to Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence for projects aimed at enhancing efforts to understand, prevent, disrupt, and combat gun and gang violence.
    • $2.1 million from B.C.’s 2018-19 allotment was devoted to sustaining gang-related intervention and prevention programs over three years in Abbotsford, the Cariboo-Chilcotin region and the Capital Regional District.
  • In 2018-19, this government provided over $6 million in funding through the Civil Forfeiture Crime Prevention and Remediation grant program to projects that address crime prevention and remediation initiatives, including those focused on mentoring youth involved in the gang lifestyle, supporting victims of gender-based violence, and healing and rebuilding in Indigenous communities.
  • The Ministry of Education is working with the B.C. School Superintendents Association, Safer Schools Together, and the First Nations Education Steering Committee to develop additional supports for high-risk individuals and communities, including the development of Indigenous gun and gang violence prevention tools.
  • The Surrey Anti-Gang Family Empowerment Program was awarded $7.5 million in funding through Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy’s Youth Gang Prevention Fund and will address risk and protective factors associated with youth violence and youth gangs in Surrey, and provide alternatives to joining gangs.

Contacts:

Ministry of Education
Media Relations
250 356-5963

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Media Relations
250 213-3602

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect

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