Students use their WITS to deal with bullies

November 13-19 is bullying awareness week in Canada, a reminder the issue remains a prominent one in schools across the country.

November 13-19 is bullying awareness week in Canada, a reminder the issue remains a prominent one in schools across the country.

But a program which started in Greater Victoria in the late ‘90s is teaching young children how to deal with bullies, and research shows it’s having a positive impact.

It’s known as WITS (Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help), and it’s aimed at students from kindergarten to Grade 3. A sister program, called WITS Leads, targets students in Grades 4 to 6, teaching them how to help younger kids deal with bullying.

Researchers at the University of Victoria have conducted a pair of three-year evaluations since WITS was introduced. They’ve found that incidents of peer victimization at schools that employ WITS have decreased since the program was introduced.

“I’ve seen how it can help kids learn to be a little more socially adept, and how to do some problem solving on their own and not just rely on parents and teachers to help them,” said Dr. Josephine MacIntosh, a WITS research associate. “It also helps them recognize when they should seek help.”

One of the key principles of WITS is that it takes a holistic approach to bullying.

“We bring in community leaders, emergency service personnel, athletes – people kids will look up to,” said MacIntosh. “This way they know that not only are their families there for them and their teachers are there for them, they know the community will look out for them as well.”

In Greater Victoria, WITS is funded in part by the Rock Solid Foundation, which provides resources to participating schools. The organization’s executive director has seen firsthand how the program’s impact can reach beyond the school environment.

“When my daughters are having a spat, I say, ‘You have to use your WITS,’” said Dorian Brown, whose kids attend Macaulay school in Esquimalt. “That reminds them, ‘I have to strategize here, what can I do? I can walk away, I can talk it out, I can ignore it.’ There’s a nice balance with the WITS strategy.”

There are currently 37 schools on the South Island that are enrolled in the WITS program, which has expanded across Canada and even to the U.S., New Zealand and Saudi Arabia since it was first introduced.

For more information on the program, visit www.witsprogram.ca

Just Posted

Saanich walks the walk on crosswalk after student lobbied for improvements

Elanor Teel approached first Saanich about the intersection in March 2017

Firefighters across the region swing into the giving season

Local firefighter says it’s about whole community

Salmon runs produce highs and lows on Vancouver Island this year

Chinook salmon did particularly well on the Island this year

Victoria Disability Resource Centre helps people find jobs

Statistics Canada survey found people with disabilities face higher rate of unemployment

Pedestrian scrambles, underground tunnels and other downtown Victoria quirks

The area around the former Eaton’s Centre had some unique ideas

Victoria axe thrower targets world championships

Former pitcher to compete at World Axe Throwing League Championships in Chicago

POLL: Are you giving to charities over the holiday season?

In the holiday rush, amidst the hustle and bustle to find that… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 4, 2018

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

Battle over Saanich’s Haro Woods not yet over, says report

Draft management plan calls on Saanich to spend $142,500 to improve area

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

Consumer Protection BC says selling practices were ‘aggressive and deceptive’

Most Read