(T-G Photo by Jim Davis)
The American Medical Association Alliance believes it's never too early to teach students about bullying, and has created the Stop America's Violence Everywhere (SAVE) initiative to combat the growing problem.
One study says nearly one quarter of elementary students report having been bullied.
The activity book, "You Don't Have to be Bullied," is designed to generate a dialogue about bullying, its effect on children and ways to overcome bullying in the school or on the playground.
Through mazes, picture finds and other coloring activities, young children learn what bullying looks like, and what to do if they are being treated negatively and aggressively by their peers.
The Bedford County chapter of the Tennessee Medical Association Alliance successfully applied for a grant to distribute the books to 700 local elementary students. "The children have been very responsive," said Barbara Blanton, local president. The program is also supported by the Shelbyville Rotary Club.
The materials were provided to school guidance counselors and are being used in second and third grade classes.
"Bullying affects all children, and can have long-term consequences," said Blanton.
The activity book is designed to be completed in class as a group and follows the experiences of Keith, a student who is afraid to go to school, but won't tell his mom. The activities focus on making positive choices in difficult situations.
Increasingly, 'stop bullying' programs are encouraging students to be more than a bystander as well, by setting a good example, helping the person being bullied get away from the situation and refusing to give a bully an audience.
For more information on how to stop bullying, visit www.stopbullyingnow.gov.