Students learn to use ‘wits’ to stop bullying

Terrace primary and elementary students will be learning strategies to combat bullying starting today, Pink Shirt / Anti-Bullying Day.

Local primary and elementary students will be learning strategies to combat bullying starting today, which is Pink Shirt / Anti-Bullying Day.

Two programs are being rolled out to help young people from kindergarten to Grade 3 and Grades 4 to 6 to stop bullying.

The programs are being put on by Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Terrace.

At assemblies this morning, students at Thornhill Primary, Thornhill Elementary and Spring Creek Adventist schools will get an introduction to the WITS program for the younger students and the WITS LEAD program.

WITS stands for Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help; and LEADS is Look and listen, Explore points of view, Act, Did it work, Seek help.

“In my opinion, I think it’s because it’s empowering for children to work through issues and it also teaches them lifelong problem solving / conflict resolution skills,” says Big Brothers Big Sisters coordinator-fundraiser Monica Watson about why ‘seek help’ is last on the list.

“The idea behind it is to involve school, families and communities to all give the same message to help children if they are faced with bullying.”

At today’s assembly, younger students hear a story and Terrace RCMP community policing officer Const. Angela Rabut teaches them the WITS handshake and oath. Older students will see the “tug-of-help” skit.

In the skit,  a child on one end of a rope is a bully and the child on the other end is the potential bullying victim.

In the first pull, the bully wins.

But on the second pull, others join in and help so the bully loses.

“I think with the tug-of-help skit, the kids will see that on the first try, you do it on your own but with the second try, you’ve asked for, and received, help,” says Watson.

“To me, WITS is really good for dealing with the other more indirect types of bullying.”

The program continues with teachers reading selected literature and using a suggested lesson plan for their students.

Then every two months, community leaders visit classrooms to keep interest in the program.

This also allows children to interact with positive community role models, reinforcing the WITS message. The program has been used at Cassie Hall for about a year-and-a-half.