THE Province announced on Tuesday it is providing $1.12 million in additional funding to expand the Expect Respect and a Safe Education (ERASE) anti-bullying program to help educate youth and to fight the lure of gangs and gang violence in British Columbia’s communities.
“Programs that address the circumstances that lead to gang involvement help to create positive community connections, and a better way of life,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We’re ensuring we provide the resources necessary for our youth, by partnering with the Ministry of Education to expand on their very successful provincewide ERASE program, to include new training modules focused on gang and gun violence prevention.”
B.C.’s ERASE Strategy is designed to help prevent, identify and stop harmful behaviours, whether they occur in school or online. The new training modules will be provided to school and district staff, law enforcement and community partners. The expanded program will also provide specific training for communities where gang-affiliated behaviours have been identified and for youth who would benefit from additional support. The program will be available to a culturally diverse audience.
“Education is crucial to keeping our children connected to their community and on the road to success,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “This funding will give teachers and community partners more tools to help students avoid gang life, transition to higher learning, and lead successful lives.”
Preventative measures, such as the ERASE program, ensure youth around B.C. are knowledgeable and resilient, and have the resources they need to make the right choices and avoid criminal and gang activity, according to the Province.
To ensure supports are there for those seeking to leave the gang lifestyle, the Province is providing an additional grant of $239,000 to the End Gang Life Exiting and Outreach Pilot Program. The program, currently being evaluated to identify best practices and lessons learned, supports young gang-entrenched adults who are serious about making a change. The additional funding provided will support the pilot through to the end of its evaluation phase.
The Province said these actions are another step in its effort to bring attention to gun and gang violence, and to stimulate discussion, which eliminate misperceptions about gangs and gang lifestyle.
Combined with the work of the provincial anti-gang unit, the Combined Special Forces Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-BC), the Province said it continues to target and disrupt gun and gang violence head-on with a multi-pronged approach to keep citizens throughout British Columbia safer.
* According to the Preventing Youth Involvement in Gangs report, the average age when youth begin to associate with gangs is 13 years old.
* More than 18,000 educators, law-enforcement members, probation officers, child and youth mental-health workers, and other community partners, have received training through B.C.’s ERASE program.
* The expanded ERASE program aims to train over 14,000 school / district staff, law enforcement members and community partners to prevent and respond to safety issues involving gang-related behaviour, guns and illicit drug use.
* The expanded ERASE program also aims to provide all 60 safe-school teams in the province with tools to identify, and respond to, youth on the pathway to gang and gun violence.
* To date, the End Gang Life Exiting and Outreach Pilot Program has helped 40 individuals successfully leave the gang lifestyle, and has reached over 425,000 community members through community engagement initiatives.
For more information on the ERASE program, visit: https://www.erasebullying.ca
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit BC also has anti-gang resources for parents: http://www.endganglife.ca