Elevating the Hero and Putting the Bully in the Background

The Character Network is a research-based, proactive bully prevention program.

Every story has a villain, and for many kids, that villain is the class bully. With intense media focus and many tragic bullying-related events occurring throughout the last few years, bullying has been in the spotlight. But one organization is working to put that attention where it belongs — on the heroes.

The Character Network is a research-based, proactive program that helps prevent bullying by instilling heroic characteristics in children through school programming. The program takes the emphasis off the villain — the bully — and puts it on the hero of the story and their actions.

With special programming tailored to each age group from kindergarten through high school, The Character Network begins working with children at a young age and teaching them how to replace negative behavior with positive behavior. Regular in-school programs include:

  • The Beginning of a Hero™: This series of two-minute audio presentations are used on elementary school intercom systems, spotlighting famous people and how they helped others.

  • Bully Alert™: These two-minute stories talk about bullying situations and how they were resolved by a teacher, peer, administrator, or parent.

  • The Beginning of Little Heroes™: Focusing on kindergarten and pre-kindergarten kids, this program talks about heroes and bullies in easy-to-understand ways.

School and family assembly programs are also available, taught by the program's founder — radio personality and father of six, Jim Lord. State Farm® recently coordinated and sponsored one of Lord's presentations at Immaculate Heart of Mary, a Catholic K-8 school in Belmont, CA, that has been using the programming. San Carlos Agent Gina Vallee sponsored and participated in a recent school assembly with Lord.

"When I contacted the school to see if they'd be interested in having an assembly with Jim, the principal called me back raving about the program and how much the students enjoyed it," said Vallee. "She said it's the best program they've implemented."

Lord was able to schedule a trip to the school the following week, and Vallee watched his amazing connection to the children. He separated the kids by age groups: "K" through fourth grade, and fifth through eighth grade. "Every single student was engaged watching and listening to him," Vallee said. "They had been hearing his voice in the two-minute PA recordings for months."

Vallee was overwhelmed by the outpouring of thanks from the teachers for sponsoring the assembly, and the students sang the State Farm jingle in unison.

Vallee, who has children of her own, was impressed by the program and by Lord's connection with the kids. "This is a program I want to see in my kids' school," she said. "They talk about heroes, and the actions that made them heroes. It took the emphasis off the bully and put them in the background."

State Farm will continue to sponsor The Character Network programs throughout the 2011-2012 school year and is hoping to get more schools and agents involved in the program.

To learn more about The Character Network, visit the