Lacombe Police Service is looking for help tackling bullies and they are turning to the younger set to get it.
On May 2, during the ‘Mayor for a Day’ event at City Hall, Police Chief Gary Leslie asked participating students to submit their ideas on how to deal with bullies to the LPS.
He said that the insight would be incorporated into an action plan that Leslie plans to present to the police commission in the near future.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what their thoughts are,” said Leslie. He added that young students have a vested interest in how bullies are dealt with because they are the ones who are affected directly by those decisions.
“It’s important for them to have an opportunity to tell the adults how we maybe can do something differently or something better to address that problem,” said Leslie.
Leslie said he already has a format of what can be done to deal with bullying. However, he wants to give students an opportunity to add to that plan.
Bullying is a growing problem that is not going away.
Leslie recognized that it affects kids just as much today as it did in his day and the effects of bullying are long-standing. He added that he still remembers his encounters with a schoolyard bully from his own childhood.
“I can remember the guy that bullied me,” said Leslie. “I remember him beating me up. I remember where it happened. I know everything about him.”
While Leslie would not disclose the details of the proposed action plan before it went to the police commission he did say that he is a big supporter of the School Resource Officer (SRO) program.
He said that the program heightens students’ accessibility to the police service and allows an officer stationed in the school to work at a personal level with students to solve problems at the root cause.
“What our members can do is work with that (bully) so that he can become a functional person in the community,” said Leslie. He added that the key to dealing with bullies is changing their behaviour.
“It’s learned behaviour,” said Leslie. “You don’t start off as a bully.” Leslie said that bullying is part of growing up and therefore he does not want bullies to be dealt with too harshly, but he said they certainly need to be made aware of consequences for what they do.
He added that charging bullies under the criminal code is also an action that will be taken, but only after all other options are exhausted.
“You don’t want some of those young kids to have criminal records because you want them to become productive people in the community.”