Bullying and violence impact the lives of many children and teens in the community and they can take a huge emotional toll on their victims.
The Buffalo County Community Partners are doing their part to make Kearney a safer community. They hosted a free violence prevention workshop on Tuesday at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney to educate community members on the issues.
Experts say it's important to understand where the behavior comes from and how to prevent it.
They say a child's environment has a lot to do with preventing bullying and that the behavior doesn't just start on its own.
Having a supportive home and community can make all the difference when it comes to prevention.
"Making sure that young people have caring adults in their lives, that they feel connected to the community, meaningful opportunity to participate... Those are all really important strategies to prevent violence," said violence prevention expert and speaker, Annie Lyles.
Some children may not have a supportive home or they may experience a lot of violence around them when they are at school or in the community. That's why it is so important to understand the factors that may push youth in the direction of bullying or violence.
"Well the other side of that are risk factors, right? And so again there's been a lot of science that really helps them understand where it is that bullying comes from," said Lyles.
"We know it's a learned behavior. We know it's a result of different types of exposures – whether its violence at home – whether its violence in the community that they're exposed to. There's all different things that happen with young people, "she said.
These risk factors can be minimized through education.
If a child sees a lot of violence in the community, parents can work to ensure that their home is a safe and supportive place. The same goes for schools.
School administrators can stay educated on violence prevention techniques and make sure that children and teens feel safe at school and can stay positive and involved.
Mary Fruhling, an elementary counselor at Kearney Public, attended the event and said she will use what she learned today at work.
"I will look at our curriculum to see where we could implement some of that proactiveness to strengthen kids," said Fruhling.
Being proactive and aware can stop bullying before it happens and is an effective strategy not only at school but also at home.
The goal of the workshop was to teach everyone how to work together to prevent violence and to give people strategies to deal with the issue.
By educating community members that work with children and teens, the Buffalo County Community Partners hope to keep the community safe and supportive.
More information on the Buffalo County Community Partners and their upcoming events can be found at http://www.bcchp.org.