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Focus on RCMP

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police - National Youth Strategy

 

Reduction of youth involvement in crime, whether as victims or offenders, is a priority of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s National Youth Strategy. Louis Zuniga, Manager of the National Youth Strategy, says that this strategy is anticipated to be released during the next few weeks, covering topics related to youth criminality such as “intimate partner violence, drug and substance abuse and youth radicalization”.

Not only does the RCMP’s Centre for Youth Crime Prevention provide youth, adults and police officers across Canada with the tools and resources to learn about these “national priorities and issues”, but the CYCP also enables effective youth engagement, and fosters productive dialogue on these matters in communities across the country. The National Youth Advisory Committee and RCMPTalks, two CYCP initiatives designed to both involve and educate youth in being critical thinkers and positive decision makers around topics such as youth crime prevention, were both successful highlights for the RCMP this past year.

Comprising students between the ages of 12 to 17, representing all provinces and territories, the National Youth Advisory Committee is an all-encompassing mosaic of voices from Canada’s youth. This group convenes online on a biweekly basis to offer their crucial perspectives on issues impacting youth to the RCMP. “We ask them about trends in their communities, social policies and their perspectives on events and campaigns that we are looking to launch”, Zuniga explains. “We give partner organizations of the RCMP the opportunity to ask our committee questions as well.”

RCMPTalks is a series of interactive videoconferences bringing together youth from across Canada, that is looking to host another session in Fall 2015. RCMP’s Jennifer Pettalia describes, “We take six classes from six schools across the nation – from BC, Alberta, all the way to PEI – allowing students to come together from coast to coast to participate in a set curriculum and interact with each other in a virtual classroom.” One to two weeks before the national videoconference, students engage in learning activities such as writing blog posts on issues like Bullying and Cyberbullying and Impaired and Distracted Driving, receiving feedback from online advisors, like PREVNet. During the 90-minute videoconference, students can interact with each other online as well as gain insight from guest speakers. Students undergo culminating projects to conclude their RCMPTalks program such as developing a charter of rights and responsibilities regarding how one should treat others for the RCMPTalks unit on cyberbullying.

The CYCP’s success with the RCMPTalks series stems from age-appropriate and evidence-based information from resources such as PREVNet. “I think the partnership with PREVNet is extremely valuable. PREVNet is certainly a leading resource in research in bullying and cyberbullying.” The CYCP’s partnership with PREVNet also extends to its involvement in WITS, the literacy-based peer-victimization prevention program that relies closely on PREVNet’s research.  In 2011, the RCMP helped champion the WITS message across Canada, particularly in rural areas, and invaluably adapt the programs for use in Francophone and French Immersion schools. “We plan to continue supporting WITS in interested RCMP jurisdictions across Canada”, Zuniga says.

Looking ahead, in addition to developing new pamphlets, lesson plans, fact sheets and other resources for the public, Zuniga says the CYCP is eager to continue with RCMPTalks. Particularly, the CYCP recognizes the importance of considering the growing ubiquity and influence of technology moving forward. “We’re always looking for the newest, most prevalent issues affecting youth. One of which is internet safety.” Development is underway for a RCMPTalks event focusing on safety in a tech savvy culture that targets youth, while also being accessible to parents and teachers, a generation that may feel “less comfortable” with the rampant rise of modern-day communication technology.

Furthermore, the RCMP hopes to leverage social media such as Facebook and Twitter to build more of an online presence as well as foster new partnerships and strengthen pre-existing ones. “I would like to see PREVNet and us to collaborate more on social media.”


 To learn more about the RCMP's Centre for Youth Crime Prevention click here

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