Bev Moore Davis has advocated for the Kids in the Know program to be introduced to Newfoundland and Labrador since 2018. She says Tuesday's announcement that all schools will see the program implemented by 2025 is a long time coming. (Chelsea Jacobs/CBC)
A body safety education program that advocates have called on government to bring to Newfoundland and Labrador schools will be in classrooms across the province by the start of the 2025-26 school year.
The Kids in the Know program will be phased into classrooms over the next two years, according to Education Minister Krista Lynn Howell. The program is already in 38 schools and will be implemented in 20 more by next winter on the way to each classroom in the province.
Kids in the Know is the national safety education program created by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. The program, aimed at students in kindergarten to Grade 9, bills itself as using age-appropriate language to build personal safety skills both offline and online, and focuses on topics like cyberbullying, child abuse and sexual exploitation.
Bev Moore Davis has advocated for the program since 2018 as a survivor of abuse, and says Tuesday's announcement is a long time coming.
"My team and I, we've waited years for this," Moore Davis told reporters. "A lot of people have been waiting, and we're just really excited and look forward to watching it unfold."
Moore Davis said the program will give students of all ages the tools they need to navigate both the online and offline worlds. It holds valuable skills and conversations she wishes she could have had as a child, she added.
"There are a lot of survivors that silently suffer, and carry it with them for decades. This will give those children the tools to know when something is inappropriate," she said. "Just knowing that they can reach out to somebody in their safety circle, that is in itself is going to make such a huge difference."
Education Minister Krista Lynn Howell said the program will hopefully be in 58 schools by the end of 2024, ahead of every school being implemented by the start of 2025. (Chelsea Jacobs/CBC)
Moore Davis said the program is designed to build on the teachings of the previous year as children age, which Howell believes is key for removing stigma and providing safer spaces.
"We want to make sure that they have the knowledge, that they understand what's appropriate and what's not. And this compact package will allow our teachers to have the tools to teach them," Howell said.
"It just becomes a part of their conversations, so they're comfortable talking about it."
Howell said an established committee including Moore Davis will oversee the program's implementation, which will work as quickly as possible to hopefully implement it before 2025.
But NDP Leader Jim Dinn, a former teacher, fears that teachers and counselors may not be able to implement the program effectively as things stand.
"If you're going to have more programs like this — and these are important — I've seen the evidence of how smaller classes allow teachers that ability to work it into the curriculum," he said. "It comes down to [having] the ... resources."