stand(Photo courtesy STAND)

GREENVILLE, Ky. (5/12/14) — There was a time when the term bullying conjured images of one student pushing or teasing a classmate in the cafeteria.

Unfortunately, bullying, along with teenage use of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and an increase in cyberbullying, can have dire consequences including student suicide.

Several students from the Muhlenberg County School System shared what the STAND and Bully Free Forever program messages are during the May 8 Greater Muhlenberg Chamber of Commerce meeting. The meeting, held at the Greenville First Methodist Church, included a close up look at the two programs; 4-H Bully Free Forever program and Students Teaching Against Negative Decisions. These programs are making a positive difference with Muhlenberg students.

Zach Tarter, Allie Poole and Sam Culton are members of STAND, and although all are graduating seniors this year, they each agreed that STAND is creating a positive message that is growing every year. The group now has approximately 100 members at MCHS.

Poole noted that although the group concentrates on making smart decisions when it comes to saying, no to drugs, alcohol and other negative life-altering choices, the group also emphasizes other areas of concern.

"STAND also promotes community service and academic leaderships," Poole said.

Tarter added that it's been inspiring to watch the growth of the STAND program.

"It has grown so fast," Tarter said. "All the students in the county now know what STAND is. The teachers and parents know what it is as well. Just getting the name out there in the public is very important, I think. As far as a positive effect, I just like to go out in public and see the kids wearing the STAND T-shirts and talking about it in a positive way."

Stephanie Caudill, Macie Smith, Lauren Groves and Chandler Johnson represented the Bully Free Forever program, and explained a bit about the program.

Caudill told SurfKY News that the group goes to every elementary school in the county to emphasis that bullying is destructive, widespread and should not be tolerated by students who suffer from its effects.

"We talk about bullying and the different types of bullying with third graders in the county school system," Caudill said. "Bully Free Forever began in 2011 and has been growing ever since."

Chandler Johnson noted that several polls have shown that numerous parts of the school systems along with parents and students agree that bullying is one of the biggest problems in the Muhlenberg County School System.

"We have been going to every elementary school each year," Johnson said. "Bullying includes physical threats, exclusion and cyber-bullying through social media."

The BFF teams dress as super heroes at the various schools, performing skits and showing the best way to deal with bullying when it occurs. One of the main lessons the BFF members try to emphasis is that telling a teacher or principal about someone that is a bully is not tattling.

"We emphasize that telling someone is something that needs to be done," Johnson said. "Whether it's physical, on the internet or whatever, they need to tell an adult in order to stop bullying."

Paul McRee
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