The B.C. government is expanding an anti-bullying program in schools across the province, targeting children in kindergarten and pre-school.

Premier Christy Clark says the Roots of Empathy program is recognized internationally as a way to teach young kids core values like respect, kindness and empathy.

"Children deserve to grow up without fear of bullying," said Clark on a visit to Morley Elementary School in Burnaby. "The Roots of Empathy program delivers on that promise and helps teach young children how to act towards each other."

Education Minister George Abbott says bullying can have devastating consequences for children and the program shows them their actions and words have real power.

Roots of Empathy will be expanded into about 360 kindergarten classrooms, while a companion program will be used in 22 pre-schools or other child care settings.

The government will provide $800,000 to support the programs over five years.

Roots of Empathy was founded in Canada in 1996 by Mary Gordon, who says research shows children who take the program will bully less and be more co-operative, caring and kind.