|B.E.A.T. PROGRAM NOW TACKLES GAMBLING|
MONTREAL, OCTOBER 19, 2004– The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) Student Services Department and the School Services Department of Jewish Family Services (JFS) are now entering the third year of a special project aimed at lessening the risk factors conducive to such problems as drug abuse, violence, sexual promiscuity, self-destructive behaviours and gambling.
The B.E.A.T. Program (Building Educational Assets Together) was originally piloted at six schools, and has now expanded to 25 schools. Dora Cesta, assistant director of Student Services, has added a new dimension this year called, "The Winning Combination" Prevention in Gambling Project. The EMSB has received more than $100,000 in special funding from the Ministère de la Santé et de Services Sociaux (MSSS) to participate in the experimental program on pathological gambling, which is being coordinated by the Agence de développement de réseau locaux de services de santé et de services sociaux (formerly the Régie régionale de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal-Centre). At the request of EMSB Student Services, Jewish Family Services (JFS) was invited to extend its partnership by specifically addressing the issue of gambling dependency, under the umbrella of the B.E.A.T. Program.
Current research highlights the prevalence and increase of gambling among youth. In studies conducted on the subject, McGill University’s Department of Education and Counseling Psychology found that among youth, 8% of teens meet the criteria for problem gambling, with 4.7% of Montreal teens having a gambling addiction, and in another study, 3.4% of Montreal teens were found to have problems with gambling. Even more compelling recent research indicates co-morbidity across multiple areas such as substance and alcohol abuse and gambling. "In other words," states Ms. Cesta, "if children are engaging in risky behaviours in one area of their lives, they are more than likely to participate in additional high-risk behaviours, such as gambling."
As part of this new phase of the B.E.A.T. Program, the EMSB and JFS intend to build school support systems (parlour meetings for parents, student-teacher mentoring, after school pro-social activities, social skill building, and education on the issue of gambling) that bring together the "Winning combination" of protective factors to inoculate these specific communities of young people against risky behaviours. A project coordinator along with three professional staff have been engaged to carry through this initial process.
Based on the past successful initiatives of EMSB Student Services, Jewish Family Services and the B.E.A.T. Program, the EMSB is anticipating another successful and well implemented prevention program for a growing risk behaviour which is now becoming more prevalent among teens who meet the criteria for problem gambling.
Michael J. Cohen