White Rock Elementary students practise their salute

White Rock Elementary students practise their salute

White Rock students take pledge to tackle bullying

RCMP members bring WITS program to White Rock Elementary

Bullies beware: there’s a new brand of law enforcement in town – and they’ve got their WITS about them.

More than 100 White Rock Elementary students were sworn in as special constables in the fight against bullying last month, following a presentation aimed at giving kids the tools to deal with and put a stop to the problem.

Standing at attention before Const. Janelle Shoihet – feet together, shoulders back, chest out and chin up – the kindergarten to Grade 3 children repeated the pledge in unison:

“I promise to use my WITS, to walk away, ignore, talk it out and seek help when I’m dealing with teasing and bullying. I promise to also help other kids use their WITS to keep my school and my community a safe and fun place to be and learn.”

The WITS program grew from an effort that began in 1993 at an Esquimalt elementary school, where students were taught the four conflict-resolution strategies now represented by the acronym.

It quickly caught on, and the program evolved to include approaches that can be taught to older students.

Shoihet has been teaching it at White Rock Elementary for three years, and said it “absolutely” makes a difference when the message is getting delivered to kids at a young age.

On return visits, she challenges students to tell her when they’ve used their WITS. Sometimes they’ll share an experience where they wish they had used them, she said.

The primary program includes the reading of a story about a walrus who helps a little boy deal with teasing at school. It ends with students being taught a “secret handshake” and presented special-constable badges.

The latter quickly found their way onto the shirts of the White Rock Elementary students, who eagerly patted the stickers firmly into place and gleefully practised their new handshake.

Shoihet emphasized to the students that the distinction is a big deal.

“Not every school has WITS,” she said.

The comment prompted a suggestion from one student for the officer to “go to every school and tell everybody.”

The enthusiasm only strengthened her belief that the program’s message is getting through.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

A criminal trial for Robert Boule (inset), the owner of the Smuggler’s Inn, is to begin in August 2021, following a failed application to strike down immigration-act provisions that he is charged under. (Photo courtesy of The Northern Light newspaper)
Blaine inn owner’s challenge of immigration act fails

Robert Boule’s trial on human-smuggling charges set to begin August 2021

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Most Read