Notes from Canada on bullying and DWI

Two items that I trust will be of some interest to readers of this blog.

The first is from Paul Kells, the former CEO of Safe Communities in Canada. Now that SC has been absorbed by Parachute (the new umbrella organization – no pun intended) he has launched a new career and one part of that is to foster Up-Standers — people who make a difference. In a recent email he described Travis Price and David Sheppard, both from Nova Scotia, who took on the challenge of preventing bullying. In Pauls words, this is what happened:  “Back in 2007, Travis Price and David Shepherd, then in Grade 12, rallied hundreds of students at Central Kings Rural High School in Nova Scotia to wear pink t-shirts to school to stand up to bullies who had harassed a younger boy the day before for wearing pink.  The story was picked up by media and since then millions of people in different parts of the world wear pink to show their support for those who are bullied. Click here to read the original CBC news story.The provincial government at the time legislated the second Thursday of every September to be “Pink Shirt Day” and children throughout the province participate. Other provinces started their own anti-bullying days as well.The story of these two boys is a testament to the fact that standing up (vs. taking the position of a bystander) can make a big difference. Today, the Up-Standers group is working with the Canadian Red Cross to create a national anti-bullying day. The intent is to change the mindset around bullying. Previous large scale culture change campaigns have worked before – seat belts, drinking and driving and recycling are a few examples.When you put on your pink shirt, remember how much impact this seemingly small gesture can make.   Paul Kells   Workplace Respect and Safety Champion, Culture Change Expert and Inspiring Speaker

The second is a new report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) that reveals a worrying trend: the growth of DWI offenses among women. The report was based on a qualitative study that included a review of the literature about female drunk drivers. As well as the increases in arrests among women for DWI it pointed “to gaps in knowledge pertaining to their profile and characteristics, experiences in the criminal justice and treatment systems, and the types of strategies and interventions that are most effective with this population. Consequently, TIRF conducted a follow-up exploratory case study in 2012 that involved cases drawn from California, Michigan, Missouri and New York. “The design of this hypothesis-generating study included interview focus groups with more than 150 female offenders representing diverse backgrounds and experiences in the system. It also involved interviews with 36 experienced practitioners representing different phases of the criminal justice and treatment systems.  The objectives of the study were to:
– Create a foundation that could inform the development of much needed research initiatives as well as prevention efforts and effective interventions tailored towards female drunk drivers.
– Explore the life histories of convicted female drunk drivers and the ways that their history may contribute to their offending.
– Examine women’s experiences in the criminal justice and treatment systems.
– Explore the experiences of criminal justice and treatment professionals in supervising this offender population.
Click here to download the executive summary. –
Click here to download the full report. –

Editors comment: I am not a great fan of qualitative research and even less happy about focus groups but there are clearly some important findings here that should trouble us because we have long assumed (at least I have) that DWI mostly involved men. To discover that women are a large and growing part of the  problem is noteworthy.


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