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New program in Gainesville helping to stop bullying before it starts

CBS 4 Gainesville reporter Kat Boonzaier discusses the new bullying program with children.

A new program in Gainesville is helping to stop bullying before it can begin.

The River Phoenix Center for Peace Building has been teaching students about building healthy relationships and preventing bullying.

"It teaches them really specific skills around the dynamic of bullying," Managing Director Katie Fields said. "How someone has to harm someone or being harmed and often there is someone standing by and doesn't know what to do, and is scared."

Parent Kate Gleason sparked the program by asking the center for guidance.

"We felt that there was a real need in this community for some back to school skills," Gleason said. "I have two kids that go to school here in this county and I continue to see a deficit as far as resources available to children."

The students were taught self-awareness, empathy and how to extend a hand if they see a fellow student in need.

"You can actually reach out to them and help them get through that and make them feel better about themselves," said Simini, an incoming sixth-grader.

Parents say they've seen an impact in just four days.

"My daughters had a wonderful time," Gleason said. "She's reported back to me everything she's learning."

And just like a domino effect, the students will spread kindness to their peers.

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