The fight against bullying and cyberbullying is getting a $150,000 boost from the government of Saskatchewan.
Winston Blake, executive director of Saskatoon Restorative Action Program, which will be receiving $80,000 of that, says making an impact will take a concerted effort from all partners.
Fighting bullying a community-wide effort
"We have to recognize schools do an amazing job of helping young people — they are the first line of defence," he said.
However, other partners, including government agencies and businesses, can help as well.
'We have to be able, as an entire community, to step up to say, 'What can we do to help?' And RAP has really done that.' - Winston Blake, executive director of Saskatoon Restorative Action Program
"We have to be able, as an entire community, to step up to say, 'What can we do to help?' And RAP has really done that."
The program is an initiative of Saskatoon Rotary Clubs, working in partnership with Saskatoon schools.
Professionals from various backgrounds, who have been trained in mediation and restorative justice, act as facilitators in these schools, he explained.
'I'm hurt, and that's why I bully'
Often, the vast majority of young people who are bullied or who are bullies themselves will voluntarily come to facilitators, Blake said.
"A lot of the bullies will say, 'I want to change my behaviour. I'm hurt, and that's why I bully.'"
When that happens, facilitators work with the young people to come up with "a restorative, holistic plan" to address the bullying problems, he said.
The $150,000, which includes $70,000 for the Canadian Red Cross Society, is meant to support the government's 2013 action plan to address bullying and cyberbullying.
"It's important for all of us in Saskatchewan to stand with those who experience bullying so they know they're not alone," Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre said in a news release.