RAYMONDVILLE —Girls ranging from third to sixth grade are learning how to spot a good friend from a bad one by spotting good and bad traits in one.

According to statistics, bullying is a serious problem among children, especially girls. Because of the importance of maintaining healthy relationships and avoiding bullying situations, Girl Scouts of Greater South Texas has started its “Be a Friend First” outreach program.

Last Wednesday, girls in Raymondville at Pittman Elementary School were introduced to the BFF program for the first time this year and will continue to receive visits by Kaycee Liendo, Community Outreach Specialist, once a month.

The program was awarded a grant by Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation in the amount of $41,098 to bring Cameron and Willacy county girls the BFF program.

“The program is a series we have in our national portfolio that began in the early 2000s. It focuses on building healthy relationships and stopping bullying behavior,” Liendo said.

“We focus more on what it means to be a good friend and build friendships based on trust and honesty,” she said.

According to Liendo, girls are able to complete activities that allow them to earn Girl Scout badges. They receive a free membership and can continue to participate throughout the year.

“Nowadays girls have more access to social media and that can often lead to relational aggression. They make cliques, they gossip and we are trying to focus on preventing that from that starting,” she said.

Evelyn Garza, Grants Specialist from Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation, said they decided to provide the program with a grant because the Be a Friend First Program will help 600 girls.

According to Garza, BFF is useful because it addresses the problems before they happen.

“Mental health is essential to personal well-being and results in productive activities, fulfilling relationships, and the ability to contribute to society,” Garza said.

“We now know that mental, emotional and behavioral disorders are common and begin early in life; we believe the best opportunity for prevention is addressing issues like this during these formative years,” she said.

Because of the support the program has received from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation, Lydia P. Aleman, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater South Texas, said she is grateful and appreciates the help provided.

Eleven schools will be receiving the program starting this last week.

“The generous support from the foundation has allowed us to provide this to this particular region,” she said.

“We are very happy for their support and their investments in these communities,” Aleman said.