New program to help Madera Co students stop bullying

MADERA COUNTY, Calif.

The Madera County Sheriff's Department announced it will be participating in the nation-wide campaign to help kids.

The Sheriff's Office received a $38,000 grant from the Chukchansi tribe to start up a program first of its kind in the Central Valley. The hands-on course is designed to keep kids safe as young as three years old.

Bullying in schools is something many parents like Miravel Navarro always heard about but she never thought it would be a problem one of her own kids would encounter. "It was an eye-opening event for me as a parent to not understand why my child was being bullied," said Miravel Navarro.

Navarro's 8-year-old boy Ethan was bullied and kept it from her. Navarro found out through some of Ethan's friends and wanted to put a stop to it before it escalated to a tragedy. "It's very threatening to know that children as small as elementary age or even young teenagers are actually committing suicide because they're being bullied and they don't have the self-esteem," said Navarro.

The Madera County Sheriff's Department is hoping to end bullying . On Wednesday, officials announced they will be bringing a program aimed at combatting bullying. "It encourages children that when something is wrong - it educates them what's right and wrong - and it encourages them when something is wrong to tell somebody or do something," said Sheriff John Anderson.

RAD Kids is a nation-wide program new to the Valley to empower school children to fight off potential dangers. "We teach skills against bullying, avoiding abduction, molestation, things of that nature. But the ultimate goal of the program is to create a well-rounded child," said detective Kristine Hawk with the sheriff's department.

In a demonstration video, a kid is seen defending himself from an adult. It's skills like that which Navarro wants her kids to know and be prepared to physically take on. "I'm crossing my fingers just like any other parent. You try to do the best and lead him the right way but it depends on their individual status, how confident they are. So we're just hoping he overcomes this," said Navarro.

Around 1,000 Madera County students between the ages of 3 to 12 will be able to participate starting this fall. The sheriff's office will be holding a planning meeting on Thursday, May 17th at 11 a.m. to sign up people interested in becoming instructors.

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