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Thursday, April 18, 2013

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Local OPP pilot new education program Napanee detachment in classrooms as part of KIDS initiative, aimed at keeping students safe BY ASHLEY FOLEY Staff Reporter

APANEE OPP Constable Jackie Perry has introduced a new youth justice education program to iron out any kinks before the official launch of the provincewide program this fall. The OPP KIDS program began in Selby Public School earlier this month. Cst. Perry talked to Grade 8 students about drugs use and abuse. “The definition of a drug is any substance, other than food, that you put into your body that changes the way your mind or body functions,” she told the students in her first lesson. “Isn’t any drug, used improperly, a problem?” asked one student, which Cst. Perry confirmed was true before launching into a classroom-wide discussion comparing over-thecounter and illegal drug use. Cst. Perry discussed tobacco, alcohol, illegal and legal medications, as well as energy drinks during the session. But drugs are not all the KIDS program is about: KIDS stands for

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‘Knowledge, Issues, Decisions and Support’ and teaches on five different topics: Youth and law, which deals with harassment, stalking and intimidation; peer-to-peer relationships, discussing ‘flirting vs. hurting’ and how to be respectful of others, the opposite sex and healthy dating relationships; online and social media awareness, which teaches online safety and cyber bullying; mental health awareness, explaining the warning signs and where to go for help; and drug awareness. “I really like (the mental health) section, it gets the kids thinking about being tolerant and understanding a lot of youth go through depression and being able to identify it and help,” said Cst. Perry, after her lesson. The OPP KIDS curriculum’s ‘knowledge’ component teaches what students need to know about the topics discussed, whereas ‘issues’ deals with how to deal with the problems and who to speak to. ‘Decisions’ teaches how students can make smart choices and ‘support’ teaches where to go for help. “I’m glad to see them encompassing everything.

They’ve really done a lot of work in getting this curriculum together. It fits right in with the Ontario curriculum for the schools,” said Cst. Perry. “This was given to all the community service officers throughout Ontario to look at and of course we have to get board approval before we can launch it.” Though all OPP community services officers have received the program, few are trying it out before it is launched this fall, as Cst. Perry has chosen to do. She said this would allow her and other officers to ensure the program works most effectively and efficiently for its intended audiences. The program can be altered on a school-toschool basis, depending on which issues need more attention in that area. The purpose of the program is to connect with students, reduce self-victimization and prevent crime, explained Cst.Perry. It is being introduced to students around the Grade 6 level and higher, because these students are identified as “young persons” under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and can be found criminally responsible at that age.

Don’t wait till this happens to you!

Ashley Foley-Staff

Napanee OPP Detachment Constable Jackie Perry speaks to a group of Grade 8 students at Selby Public School last week as part of the new ‘Knowledge, Issues, Decisions and Support’ initiative.

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Napanee Beaver Apr 18 2013  
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