This past weekend marked two years since Kimberly Proctor’s murder by two of her classmates, but it also marked two years of work to bring about positive change and help prevent all levels of violence in schools.
Dave Betts, assistant superintendent for School District 62, said 2010 was a significant but difficult year for the district due to Proctor’s murder, but also due to two bomb threats, as well as an arson at Spencer middle school.
Combined, these events inspired district staff to take action.
“The murder … was a very significant event that happened in our community,” Betts said, “and had a profound impact on the school district and the way that we looked at things.”
Risk assessment training, developed by Kevin Cameron with the Canadian Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, was introduced for staff at all schools. The program teaches educators to look for red flags in a student’s language, drawings, actions and behaviour.
SD 62, West Shore RCMP, Vancouver Island Health Authority and other agencies have also developed protocols so normally confidential information can be more easily shared in cases of indications of potential or actual student violence.
The system establishes a duty for any employee of the school district, from teachers to custodians, to voice concerns over a student’s behaviour to administrators.
Scott Rothermel, a RCMP liaison officer with SD62 schools, interacted, separately, with both Proctor and her two murderers prior to the crime, and worked with authorities throughout the investigation.
Rothermel said that since these prevention programs have been implemented, they have been activated for a variety of reasons.
“The idea is that by doing this you’re being preemptive,” Rothermel said. “You can sort of see things coming, hopefully before they get way out of hand or before they become detrimental.”
In general, Rothermel said the schools he works in are exceptionally safe for students. Even playground brawls are almost a thing of the past, said Rothermel, who has been working with Belmont, Pacific Secondary and Edward Milne schools for four years.
Another SD 62 initiative put in place is the Restitution program. The program focuses on a broader view of the culture within the schools and looks at how students, and even staff, treat each other.
The program steers away from a “crime and punishment” disciplinary approach and focuses more on building community and making school more inclusive for everyone.
Rothermel said these programs are making a positive change in Sooke district schools, but doesn’t believe they would have necessarily prevented a crime as random and horrific as Proctor’s murder.
“There’s always the thought of ‘could have we done more’ or ‘could have we seen this actually happen,’” he said.
“Being first hand in the thick of it before, during and after I honestly don’t feel there’s anything more we could have done,” Rothermel said.
Proctor’s aunt Jo-Anne Landolt came to Victoria this past weekend to be with Proctor’s parents on the two year anniversary of her death.
She said that the family is strong and has been striving to move forward, refusing to let Proctor’s murderers destroy their lives.
Landolt has been working towards increasing school safety by campaigning for all B.C. schools to adopt the Kids in the Know program, a kindergarten to Grade 9 class-based course that teaches safety in schools, at home, on the Internet and out in public.
After talks with the Ministry of Education, Landolt has secured support but not funding for her initiative.
She vied for a $150,000 grant through the Aviva Community Fund last fall but came up short in a competition seeking online votes.
She is now canvassing businesses, corporations and individuals to donate money to help buy the materials for the program and get it into the schools.
“(Students) should have the safety know-how on how to deal with these things when they come up because they can come up,” Landolt said.
The Sooke School District will pilot the Kids in the Know program next school year, starting with students in Grade 4.
Anyone interested in donating a Kids in the Know program should see kidsintheknow.ca.