Respect in School to be implemented across Saskatchewan

School divisions across Saskatchewan will be implementing a new training program for teachers, school staff and volunteers to take part in to help build a safe and inclusive learning environment.

The Respect in School program, similar to the Respect in Sport program, is a 90 minute inline personal training course focused on preventing, identifying, responding to and reporting incidents of bullying, abuse harassment and discrimination in schools.

Saskatchewan School Boards President Dr. Shawn Davidson said the program is not mandatory, but it is still important for educators to participate.

“I think that our divisions and our staffs are going to be quite interested in this,” Davidson said. “I think that this is a good program that they have lots of opportunity to learn from and better themselves, and I think that the actual buy-in will possibly be greater than if folks feel like something’s being rammed down their throat.”

Education minister Gord Wyant said the program will be covered by the province for two years.

“I want to make sure that the program is available for as many people as possible, and so that’s the contract for two years to provide this training,” Wyant said. “It certainly can’t be provided to everybody at one time, but that’s the reason that it’s being rolled out over two years, but really it’s starting to be available to people right away within their school division.”

Respect Group co-founder Sheldon Kennedy said a program like this would have greatly helped him when he was in school.

“I don’t think anybody had the confidence to really understand or ask Sheldon Kennedy questions, ‘what’s going on Sheldon?’” Kennedy said. “When we look at it, this is what we know, we know that kids that have been abused, or kids that have been hurt or been impacted by some sort of trauma in their life, whatever that might be or however they’re struggling.

“Kids that have been abused are 26 times more likely to experience youth homelessness.” Kennedy added.

It will cost the province $100,000 per year.

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