Professionals in Prince George are among the 20,000 across B.C. who will receive training on addressing domestic violence as part of the provincial government's action plan revealed last week.
Theresa Campbell, who delivers the program around the province, will be in Prince George in early November to give local school district educators the first two of four levels of training on spotting victims of domestic violence and how to help them.
Familiarizing principals and teachers with the legal process that surrounds such incidents will be part of the curriculum.
"We have some folks that don't even have minimum understanding of the various court orders that are in place that would be an indicator that there is potentially a risk for violence," Campbell said.
"So we do some work with the school teams in relationship to what does it mean when a restraining order is put in place, what does a bail order mean."
Depending on the student, their response to physical or emotional abuse in the home could range from withdrawal and isolation to acting out and mimicking the behaviours they witnessed or were subjected to.
"Often, when kids are doing that outside of their home, it's because that's where they feel safe to release their emotions," Campbell said.
The training is part of the provincial government's action plan against domestic violence, released earlier this month in response to an investigation by B.C.s independent childrens representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond into the April 2008 murders of the three children in Merritt by their mentally ill father.
The plan sets out timelines and targets that include, for this year, domestic violence recognition and response training for about 4,000 school personnel and community representatives and 2,500 support workers in victim services, violence against women and transition house programs.
Starting next year, about 3,500 Ministry of Children and Family Development staff and 13,000 school personnel will receive training, while police officers will receive more training on assessing risk and safety planning, she said.
Government will also introduce an enhanced flagging system in the integrated justice information database (JUSTIN), used by police and Crown counsel for almost every aspect of a criminal case, to improve identification of files involving child victims.
And a new Family Law Act, which will come into force on March 18, 2013, that defines family violence and replaces restraining orders with a new protection order, which will create a stronger measure to protect women, children and families.
"A breach of a protection order will constitute a criminal offence," B.C. Justice Minister Shirley Bond said.
Turpel-Lafond has dubbed the plan a start, but shes concerned the province hasnt added new funding to the program and it appears financial pressures are restricting domestic violence programs.
- with files from Canadian Press