The days of picking up the phone and physically dialing a number are getting shorter. Texting has quickly become a major part of our daily communication and this is most apparent among our youth. The average teen sends a staggering 3,339 texts per month, or more than 6 per hour! Female usage tops the chart at 4,050 texts per month; and this year, teen’s texting habits will increase by 8 per cent. (Stats from The Nielsen Company)
Canadian youth are more connected than ever, and with this increased connectivity comes great challenge. And that’s the exact area where the organization I AM SOMEONE (IAS) offers help. IAS has been working hard to empower and educate youth to be the effective change to end bullying – through community awareness and support, technology, and advocacy.
Today we announced that IAS has teamed up with TELUS and bc211, BC’s leading support and referral organization, to provide professional, non-judgmental support to our youth via in a familiar format – texting
This first-of- its-kind platform in Canada will be available as a pilot in three cities in British Columbia: Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody. It will enable youth dealing with bullying; as well as issues ranging from gangs, sexual exploitation, date violence, hate crimes, discrimination and abuse; to send a text for assistance in finding help.
We have learned from organizations in the United States that as soon as a texting or chat-type services are introduced as a supplementary resource for youth (in addition to traditional phone service), the use of the service via texting skyrockets. We expect that this pilot will provide us with a better understanding of texting metrics as well as the needs for the service(s). With this information we hope to launch the program provincially, and one day… nationally.
The Tri-Cities Pilot will be funded by TELUS and operated by bc211 and its staff of certified Informational and Referral Specialists. Bc211’s service also operates VictimLink BC, Youth Against Violence Line, Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Line, and Problem Gambling Help Line, giving them a wealth of experience to draw from, thus making them another perfect partner for I AM SOMEONE’s texting program.
Without TELUS’ support, this project would still be in its infancy. We are extremely excited that TELUS is the main financial support for the program, but furthermore, we are enthusiastic to work with TELUS on the TELUS WISE program. We look forward to this relationship, where we aim to seek new opportunities to create safer environments for youth as they spend more time online.
Partnerships such as this are key to dealing with complex issues, and we are expecting great things to come from this collaboration. Together, we will create safer communities for all.
Greg is the Vice Chair of I Am Someone Ending Bullying Society, and the Mayor for the City of Port Coquitlam