No bullying for 3- and 4-year-olds
Program gives children confidence
by Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
May 26, 2013 | 1649 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TEACHING CONFIDENCE – Araceli Galvis (left) and Carline Rimpel (right), facilitators for the New Jersey Child Assault Prevention Project, employ puppets to instruct a room of 3-year-olds at the Early Childhood Education Center in West New York.
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More than 190 3- and 4-year-olds in North Bergen, West New York, and Kearny learned how to deal with bullying and abuse in a program run over the last three months.

“We were looking for a group or agency to come and instruct children on how to deal with bullying, being approached in a threatening way by a stranger, and being approached threateningly by a known adult,” said Rosemary Lavagnino, director of the North Hudson Community Action Corporation (NHCAC), a non-profit agency that provides low-cost health care to Hudson County communities.

Earlier this year, Lavagnino’s organization received a “cold” call from the New Jersey Child Assault Prevention, a statewide organization based in Sewell, about a program and grant.

The NHCAC applied for the grant and were approved for $3,000 for 14 classes. Funding was provided by the New Jersey Department of Human Services and the New Jersey Department of Education.

From March through May, the Prevention group and NHCAC ran the program at three different social service sites in the county.
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“Children deserve to be safe, strong and free.” – Rosemary Lavagnino
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The children’s instruction included puppets, drawing, and songs to get the point across that the kids should be confident, strong, and safe. Classes were kept to 35-minute sessions to ensure that they didn’t lose attention. Facilitators for the program were teachers, retired teachers, and other professionals.

“The training’s goal was to reduce a child’s vulnerability to verbal, physical, and sexual assault and bullying,” Lavagnino said.

But the children were not the only ones learning. Parents and NHCAC staff were trained before the kids were.

“The parents’ instruction workshop taught that children deserve to be safe, strong, and free,” Lavagnino said. “Everyone should start with getting children a sense of their own empowerment. You can’t commence too early with this objective.”

Now that the preschoolers have received the training, the NHCAC’s hope is that their schools will reinforce it.

The NHCAC offers 20 programs, including Early Childhood Education and Head Start, and has 11 health care sites. For more information on the organization or any of its programs, call 201-210-0100. The group is headquartered at 800 31st St., Union City.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.

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