700 ‘trauma bears’ divvied out to mid-Island RCMP detachments to comfort kids

700 'trauma bears' divvied out to mid-Island RCMP detachments to comfort kids
Photo: Nanaimo RCMP
More than 700 teddy bears have been distributed to close to a dozen RCMP detachments on and around Vancouver Island, according to Mounties in Nanaimo. Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024.

Hundreds of teddy bears have been purchased for RCMP detachments on and around Central Vancouver Island, where officers will hand out the plushies to children who may be in a tough spot and need some comfort.

Nanaimo RCMP R/Const. Gary O’Brien says more than 700 “trauma bears” have been divvied out to numerous detachments, including in Nanaimo, Oceanside, Port Alberni, Tofino, Ucluelet, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan, North Cowichan and Shawnigan Lake, as well as on Salt Spring and Gabriola islands.

“The bears will be distributed to front-line police vehicles at the local detachment, and used to assist officers in calming youth who may have witnessed or experienced trauma and to assist in the interview process,” he said in a release Tuesday.

‘Proven calming mechanism’

O’Brien says it’s amazing how something as small as a teddy bear can be such a significant stress reliever for kids.

“Having worked the front line for many years, I have seen firsthand the impact these bears can have,” he added. “They are a tried and proven calming mechanism for young children who may be traumatized or simply overwhelmed when speaking with a police officer.”

According to RCMP, the purchase of the bears was made possible thanks to Central Vancouver Island Crime Stoppers. O’Brien says the group saw the value in buying the bears after being approached by a civilian employee in Nanaimo.

B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development posted a trauma-informed practice guide for people working with children, youth and families back in 2017, highlighting the importance of toys such as these.

“Making blankets and stuffed animals available, or having a sensory box filled with textured toys and objects can help children and youth learn to self-regulate in stressful situations,” it said.

Most of the bears will call the harbour city home, and they even come dressed in their own Crime Stoppers t-shirt.

“The majority of the bears are earmarked for the Nanaimo detachment, while the remaining will be distributed by Crime Stoppers volunteers to the ten RCMP detachments located throughout central Vancouver Island,” added O’Brien.

He says the local Crime Stoppers serves the Central Island and relays tips to the RCMP detachments mentioned above.

To submit a tip, people are encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or visit this website.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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