Helping keep young children safe is the goal for Week of the Young Child. Family-friendly activities will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. today at Faithful Temple Church of Deliverance Praise and Worship Center at 1060 S. Main St. in Hinesville.
The week-long event began Monday with a bullying-prevention workshop and will culminate at 9 a.m. Saturday in Main Street Park with Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas and Apostle Wilhelmenia E. Brown presenting certificates of appreciation to local public-safety heroes and educators, according to Katie Jones with Faithful Temple Church.
Hinesville Fire Department public safety education officer Capt. Andra Hart said participation in events like Week of the Young Child allows the department to reach a wider audience and support children in the community.
“The average citizen can help ensure the safety of young children by first becoming more aware and educated themselves about safety and then teach children what they’ve learned,” Hart said. “They should also reinforce the child’s knowledge by practicing what they learn.”
For more information on the department’s fire safety programs, go to www.cityofhinesville.org/fire or call 876-4143.
The week’s activities included fingerprinting by the Hinesville Police Department, organizers said. The Liberty County Fire Department will offer tours of a fire engine and smokehouse and children can enjoy a puppet show as part of the event, organizers said.
Social worker Terry Lyles with Helen’s Haven Children’s Advocacy Center facilitated the workshop Monday evening on bullying and cyber-bullying. Lyles spoke to a roomful of children and youth, from pre-school through high school, and several parents and grandparents about ways kids can keep themselves safe from bullies.
“One in four kids experience bullying,” Lyles told the group. Bullies often will target those who don’t appear to be confident, she said.
She asked the children and adults to stand one by one and make positive statements about themselves. Then she tasked them with building their self-esteem every day by saying one positive comment in the mirror each morning before or after they brush their teeth.
Lyles said children should tell an adult if they are being bullied, like a teacher, principal, school counselor or nurse. And, she said, tell a parent.
“You want them to know what’s going on in your life,” she said.
The social worker also suggested children walk with friends because “bullies are less likely to pick on groups of people.”
Lyles said children who are bullied can become depressed, scared and anxious. Their grades may drop and if the bullying is physical, they could end up with bruises, scrapes and torn clothes, she said. Lyles said bullies are more aggressive now than in years past. Also, silence and non-intervention gives bullies “power,” she said, and the bullying can escalate if not stopped early.
The children who bully need help as well, Lyles said. Bullies tend to be insecure, may not receive enough attention at home or also could be victims of bullies or abuse, she said.
For more information, call Katie Jones at 977-5327 or Donella Bain at 977-5305.