Maryville, Tenn. — There is a new push in Blount County to put a stop to bullying in schools, all thanks to one Maryville mom's school project.
Frontier Nursing University student Stacey Craig was tasked with doing a community health project for one of her classes.
She said she dealt with bullies when she was young, and wants it to end.
"Having little kids myself, [bullying] is my biggest fear. "So if we can put a stop to it, all the better," said Craig.
Craig organized an event called "Bully No More," where she invited kids, parents and speakers in Maryville to talk about ways to combat bullying.
"Bullying has really gotten a lot harsher over the years," said Craig. "A lot of people don't even know they're bullying when they're doing it."
According to the National Center for Education, 5 million middle and high schoolers reported they were bullied in school during the 2014 - 2015 school year.
That's about 20 percent of kids in that age group nationally, and only accounts for reported instances of bullying.
Maryville High School sophomore Julia Jones said she dealt with bullies as a child, and is thankful Craig is opening up this conversation.
"I didn't really think about bullying or anything until it started happening to me," said Jones. "So actually going in and talking to kids and investing in them when they're younger, that's where it needs to start."
Craig invited several self-defense groups to teach both mental and physical responses to bullying.
Maryville Tae Kwon Do demonstrated some self defense moves kids can use if someone attacks them in a fight.
They told kids and parents physical fighting is a last resort, but it's good to be prepared.
Smoky Mountain Self Defense talked about the importance of stopping bullying before it gets out of hand.
But all groups say believing in yourself is a big part of the solution.
"Primarily, we teach confidence, and confidence is bully repellant," said David Church, owner of Church's Tae Kwon Do America in Maryville.
He said when kids get bullied, they can stand up to it, ignore it, or run from it.
"Ignoring it and running it doesn't help, so standing up to it whether it's verbal or physical really is the only way to deal with a bullying situation and end that situation," said Church.
All speakers advise parents to make sure your kids feel safe coming to you with any bullying problems.
Talking about bullying can go a long way in preventing it.