Nearly seven hundred educators and law enforcement officials attended an all-day seminar to learn how to treat and prevent bullying in the school system.
Attendance was free thanks to a state grant awarded to the Knoxville Police Department.
KPD Captain Bob Woolridge says they first became aware of Tuesday's keynote speaker, Dr. Steven Edwards, during a training seminar in Florida and were so impressed they brought him to Knoxville.
Woolridge says bullying is an issue law enforcement is increasingly being asked to address.
"Our goal is heighten the awareness in the community amongst students, parents, teachers, and law enforcement agencies to prevent injuries and death from bullying," said Woolridge.
Edwards entertained the crowd with stories from his own career as an educator and principal. But he also offered serious advice for dealing with bullies.
In one example, he described working for a school where a group of fourteen year-old-girls were causing problems.
He said he started off with simple communication- asking them why they were acting out. They told him they were bored, that there wasn't enough to do in school.
They wanted a step team, a group that performs a kind of rhythmic dance. Soon the program became so popular that participation was a tool for motivating positive behavior, as well as redirecting negative energy.
"Where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit," said Edwards. At first, he said when the girls told him there wasn't enough to do he thought they were being dramatic. But he said that's because he wasn't considering the issue from their point of view.
Edwards also encouraged principals to hire "tiggers" instead of "eeyores." Not only do teachers have to find ways to motivate kids, but they have to be motivated themselves.