The province is making an investment in its efforts to take a dent out of gang and gun violence.

It’s doing so by expanding the Erase (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) school-based prevention program.

The government is spending an additional $4.93 million over the next three years.

The funds will go to support students, parents, educators, law enforcement and community partners through gang prevention and awareness training programs in Courtenay, Campbell River, Chilliwack, and Hope. 

It will build on the $1.12 million previously announced for the program in March 2019, and will also provide ongoing support in the 12 previously named communities: Abbotsford, Burnaby, Delta, Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, Nanaimo, Prince George, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria and Williams Lake.

“Too often, we hear about the devastating effects of gang life on B.C. youth and their families, which is why we’re taking targeted action and offering intensive supports in B.C. communities that need help the most,” B.C. education minister Rob Fleming said. 

“By focusing on training and prevention, we are taking important action to support young people earlier and give parents, schools and communities a way to work together toward positive futures.”

The gang prevention program, in its second year, offers education and training opportunities for students, parents, educators, law enforcement officials and representatives of community-based organizations.

The new funding will offer stakeholders newly developed training and resources focused on gang and gun violence prevention. 

Student and parent education sessions on gun and gang violence prevention will also be tailored for each community. 

To date, more than 8,000 students, parents, educators and community partners have participated in 110 training and education sessions in the initial 12 priority communities.

Each of the 16 priority school districts will receive grants to support the development of local programming, such as after-school clubs and other supports for at-risk youth. 

The new funding will also provide localized monthly reports on public social media activity related to gang activity to all 60 B.C. school districts.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General said the government is committed to supporting youth in B.C. “who might be struggling with finding a constructive pathway forward.” 

“Prevention and intervention at the community level are important parts of combating gun and gang violence,” Farnworth said. “That’s why we continue to invest in programs like this that support our law enforcement partners, schools and communities in curbing violence and saving young lives.”

Safer Schools Together, the Ministry of Education’s service-delivery partner for the student safety components of Erase, is developing a new resource for B.C. educators, connected to the provincial physical and health education curriculum. 

The new resource will be made available in early 2020 and will include informational videos and a teacher’s guide to help students develop healthy relationships, avoid unsafe or exploitative situations, and protect themselves from harm.

To learn more about the Erase school-based gang and gun prevention program, click here.

To learn more about Erase strategy resources for students, parents and education professionals, click here.

For students worried about something at school or in their personal lives and interested in letting an adult in their district know who can help resolve the situation, they can visit www.erasereportit.gov.bc.ca

To view gang prevention resources for parents, visit the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit B.C. website.