In 1993, the WITS acronym was created at Lampson Street Elementary School in Esquimalt BC, Canada, when Principal Judi Stevenson began teaching students four simple conflict resolution strategies: Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out and Seek help. These were eagerly adopted by teachers, counselors, and administrators and soon, “using your WITS” was a common phrase at local schools.
After seeing WITS work, school police liaison Tom Woods, MBA sought to broaden its reach. In 1997, he launched the Rock Solid Foundation with a group of local athletes and law enforcement officials. Its mission? Provide violence prevention programs to children and youth.
Wanting the WITS acronym as part of Rock Solid’s efforts, Woods partnered with Principal Stevenson to develop a WITS Program. It was a community-based approach, with School District 61 teachers and counselors and a University of Victoria psychology department team research team contributing to the development, implementation, and evaluation.
The WITS Programs were collaboratively developed by the Rock Solid Foundation and the University of Victoria. The simple acronym evolved into today’s WITS group of Programs, unique as the only peer victimization prevention program that reaches beyond the classroom to also involve families and communities.