Abstract: Tailoring and Sharing Anti-Bullying Resource: Towards an Indigenous Adaptation of the Wits Programs for the Prevention of Peer Victimization. (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

634 Tailoring and Sharing Anti-Bullying Resource: Towards an Indigenous Adaptation of the Wits Programs for the Prevention of Peer Victimization.

Friday, May 31, 2019
Seacliff B (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Bonnie Leadbeater, Ph.D., Professor, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
The long history of colonization and residential schools in Canada has taken an enormous toll on the attachments and mental health of families living in Indigenous communities (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit) in Canada. Youth suicides are epidemic in some of these communities and historical trauma, peer bullying, domestic violence, and substance abuse are often implicated in these tragic outcomes. The WITS Programs developers created online, open-access programs that could be implemented by rural and remote communities, with distant program support. With members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) crime prevention units, we also created an implementation process to advance uptake in these schools. Local community catalysts, typically trained RCMP officers assigned to and living in these communities and school champions (teachers or principles) helped their schools and communities to access and implement the programs (Leadbeater, 2008, Leadbeater & Gladstone 2016).

To evaluate this adaptation and innovative implementation system, we conducted individual interviews with RCMP members (n= 15) and focus groups (n=2) with RCMP members and educators. WITS Programs developers in collaboration with the RCMP asked about the users’ views about the need for bullying prevention in their communities, their suggestions for adaptations to improve program fit, and gaps in service delivery capacity (i.e. individuals for start-up, resource gaps, needed collaborations and supports)

Cultural fit and adaptations of the WITS Programs: Implementation of the program were facilitated by low-cost, easy-to-use and available online training, a community engagement approach to implementation, flexibility in choice of program activities, focus on literacy and storytelling, prosocial, strengths-based messages, fit with existing police based activities in the school. Suggested adaptations were more opportunities for experiential learning, storytelling, drama, puppets, video production, singing, and drumming. Recommendations included Changing the “Swearing-In Ceremony”, which typically launches the WITS Programs, to a “Welcoming Ceremony” or learning feast that extended celebrations to include the whole community. Participants noted that there are few common symbols, emblems or icons (e.g., eagle feather, hummingbirds) and believed blank templates for activities (e.g., bookmarks) could help customize the fit of resources to each community’s unique identity.

Barriers to implementation, included competing areas of priority (learning traditional languages and culture), incorporating symbols and stories that have highly localized meanings, need for help adapting resources to local legends and languages and stigmatization of communities as having a “bullying problem”. Barriers in the catalyst model were created by planned redeployment of the RCMP members and teacher turnover. A community coach model that trained and could incentivize participation of new members of the community was needed to sustain the implementation.

These findings are being used to inform revisions to the program content and implementation and scale up strategies.