Gang prevention program expands to keep more students safe

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    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.