CAMH to expand school-based violence prevention program over four years

This $2.5 million grant from PHAC supports regional adaptation of an effective program with a special focus on Aboriginal youth.

The Fourth R Program is a school-based violence prevention program that has been shown to decrease violence, increase safer choices and create healthier relationships with peers. “We know that one of the most effective ways to reduce risk to adolescents and youth is by helping them learn to make healthy decisions and form healthy relationships with peers, parents and teachers,” said Dr. Claire Crooks, psychologist at CAMH’s Centre for Prevention Science and project lead on the Fourth R expansion. “The success of the program in grade 9 students was outstanding. We wanted to be able to also reach youth before they enter high school – this new partnership with PHAC will allow us to implement and evaluate with younger students.”

Initially developed and evaluated for grade 9 students, this project will allow the grade 8 version of the program to be evaluated with students from 48 schools in Saskatchewan. “There has never been a school-based study of violence prevention of this scope in Saskatchewan,” says Dr. Suzanne Zwarych, regional coordinator of the study. “It will allow us to see what works with Saskatchewan youth in the diversity of school settings they attend.”

In addition to the grade 8 version of the Fourth R program, CAMH’s Centre for Prevention Science will also be working with Aboriginal community partners to implement the program in schools in Northwest Territories, Ontario and Saskatchewan. There are numerous expansions to the program for use with Aboriginal students, most notably a peer mentoring program.

“Aboriginal communities have a proud history of spirituality and cultural tradition, but also have difficult issues facing their youth as a result of generations of colonization and discrimination. When developing the program, it was important to adapt it in ways that would work best for this population,” added Crooks.  “Each community is unique, so it was critical to work with local partners to incorporate suitable language and historical context as well as integrate the appropriate traditions and worldview. We will also be engaging parent groups and providing teacher training to support the effectiveness of the program.” Evaluating the Aboriginal Fourth R program requires an innovative and culturally sensitive research methodology and is an integral part of the initiative.

“The project provides a fantastic opportunity to take a program that has been shown to work in other parts of Canada and adapt it to fit the unique character of our northern communities,” says Ms. Dianne Lafferty, Aboriginal Education Coordinator of Yellowknife Catholic Schools and the regional coordinator for the NWT sites of the project. “Working with community partners in Yellowknife and Behchoko has helped us optimize that balance between evidence-based programming and regional fit.”

Media Contact: For more information or to request an interview, contact Michael Torres, Media Relations, CAMH at 416 595 6015 or email [email protected]


The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.