Promoting safety in relationships and a violence-free B.C. are goals of new learning resources the Province is piloting in schools in Surrey, Delta and Chetwynd, toward making final versions available to all B.C. school districts by the end of the year.
Respectful Futures promotes better understanding of healthy relationships among students in grades 6 and 9 through 12, with learning modules focused on topics including the characteristics of healthy relationships, identifying violent and controlling behaviours, building better relationships through better communication, and understanding and managing anger.
The pilot program is testing the modules in both urban and rural schools to ensure they are age-appropriate, inclusive, non-judgmental, evidence-based and conducive to safe environments, and present facilitators as role models. Pilot participants include students at Delta Secondary, Chetwynd Secondary, and Surrey School District’s Education Services school, where it will be integrated into programs for at-risk youth.
The new learning resource has its roots in Respectful Relationships, a correctional program proven to significantly reduce reoffending among men convicted of spousal assault. Victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, and organizations that work with them, have highlighted the opportunity to prevent abusive relationships by delivering similar information proactively to children and youth. An advisory committee comprised of representatives of the justice, education and victim-service sectors informed development of the learning modules, which reflect concepts common to various established programs devoted to improving interpersonal relationships.
Facilitators and participating students will provide feedback throughout the pilot, which is scheduled to conclude by mid-May. Edudata Canada, a research and software service centre in UBC’s faculty of education, will analyse findings toward a final report by the end of 2017.
Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General –
“We’re serious about creating a violence-free B.C. in which women and children are safe, and doing so means we’re going to have to change attitudes toward violence among young people now. We’re fortunate to have both a successful program that works with offenders convicted of domestic abuse, and an array of experts across the justice and education sector who’ve helped to adapt that program for proactive use with our young people.”
Mike Bernier, Minister of Education –
“As a society, if we want to put an end to domestic violence, we need to start as soon as possible. These resources will be tailored to students so they will learn from an early age how to develop healthy interpersonal relationships, which will help them in the future.”
- A 2009 evaluation of BC Corrections’ Relationship Violence Prevention program, delivered by corrections staff and contracted clinicians to male offenders convicted of assault and directed into programming by the courts, found significant reductions of 50% in spousal assault recidivism by participants over a two-year period when the program is delivered in the community.
- A total of $150,000 in grants from civil forfeiture proceeds funded development of the Respectful Futures modules. After the pilot concludes, Surrey School District #36 has committed to lead the initiative and host the modules and supplementary material on its website.
- The advisory committee that contributed to the development of Respectful Futures included members of the BC Teachers Federation, First Nations Education Steering Committee, Abbotsford Police Department, Ending Violence Association of BC, RCMP, BC School Superintendents’ Association, Federation of Independent Schools Association and BC Principals and Vice Principals Association.
- Respectful Futures supports commitments in the Provincial Domestic Violence Plan and the multi-year Vision for a Violence Free B.C. strategy.
An evaluation of the Respectful Relationships program on spousal assault and recidivism: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/law-crime-and-justice/criminal-justice/corrections/research-evaluation/resp-relationship.pdf