Regional Extension Agent (REA) Sallie Lide Hooker writes a word on the board of a 5th grade class at Central Elementary.
“SAFE. What does this word mean to you?” she asked.
The students seated around her eagerly share their ideas of what SAFE means. Agent Hooker listens to each students’ idea, guiding them to the realization that they are focusing on being good listeners and allowing people to express themselves without being interrupted or judged. Then, Hooker spells out what the acronym SAFE means in relation to the “Be SAFE” program taught through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES).
“Be SAFE” means cultivating Safe, Affirming and Fair Environments. The program focuses on preventing bullying and harassing behavior by teaching youth positive ways to manage emotions and to be understanding of other people’s feelings.
Regional Extension Agent Hooker, who teaches the program to students in Lowndes and surrounding counties, says she believes the anti bullying message resonates well with youth, “Because they are eager to learn about bullying since the majority reached are currently being bullied, or are closely associated with individuals who are being bullied.”
Agent Hooker not only hopes to help students understand what bullying means, but she also hopes that by learning about bullying, students will do better to avoid becoming bullies.
She stated,”Our goal is to teach that bullying is totally unacceptable behavior and should not be tolerated. We want youth to easily recognize bullying behavior and become an “up stander” instead of a bystander. We encourage students to let a trusted adult know about the behavior as part of “reporting”, not tattling, snitching, or squealing etc. They are also learning that reporting may save a life.
For more information about the “Be SAFE” program, and and other research based educational programs offered by the Alabama Cooperative System, please contact the Lowndes County Extension Office at 334.548.2315.