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Constable Ian Burke of the Halifax Regional Police has been recognized for his work in setting up and expanding the Bullying Hotline, an innovative partnership involving Halifax Regional Police, local schools and the private sector, in a project to deal with bullying in the schoolyard and its broader consequences.

As a nineteen-year veteran, Cst. Burke knew that bullying and schoolyard violence often lead to more serious issues like school suspensions and/or criminal charges. His experience told him that reactive policing did not consider the deeper factors that often led to bullying or other offensive behaviour. He recognized that mediation offered better potential to respond to youth in conflict in a constructive, pro-active way. It was this thinking that led to the Bullying Hotline.

This innovative project offers students, parents and teachers the opportunity to raise problem behaviours by phoning the hotline number. Callers have the option of identifying themselves or remaining anonymous. Each call is personally followed up by an officer who seeks a mediated response, such as a community justice conference, to deal with the complaint or concern raised.

As a result of several hundred calls, numerous young people have been diverted from the court system into a program that helps them deal with the source of their anger and keeps them in the community.

More recently, the federal government has agreed to a proposal to have Constable Burke train police officers, teachers and other volunteers in the field of mediation and group conferencing.

Halifax Regional Police are confident the mediation and conferencing aspect that is at the heart of the Bullying Hotline project is improving the effectiveness of their efforts to work with young people in conflict with the law.

Cst. Ian Burke's telephone number is 902-490-5243

the bully hotline is 1-902-490-SAVE

Read How to deal with a bullying problem with questions answered by Cindi Seddon, cofounder of Coquitlam's Bully B'ware programme, and a teacher as well as a school principal, and Halifax Regional Police officer Ian Burke at Reader's Digest Canada.


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