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Early Years Column

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With the help of a $1.3- million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, psychologists from Vanderbilt University, the University of Tennessee, and Indiana University will study 600 randomly selected kindergartners to develop a bully-prevention program.

Kenneth Dodge, an associate professor of psychology at Vanderbilt who is leading the effort, said the four-year project would try to pinpoint factors in a child's family life that could cause--or prevent--aggressive behavior.

Mr. Dodge said aggressive children often become problem adolescents and are more likely to have academic and social difficulties. He said the study would attempt to identify children who exhibit such behavior at an early age, and work with them and their families to develop social skills.

"We know that by the time some children are in the 2nd or 3rd grade, they've already developed aggressive patterns," he said. "We're trying to prevent those patterns from beginning in the first place."

To help ease the jitters of new kindergarten students, a Georgia teacher and a film producer have collaborated to create a videotape about school from a child's perspective.

Janice Cochran, a kindergarten teacher at the Union County Elementary School in Blairsville, said the project began more than two years ago, when the father of one of her students wanted to make a videotape of his daughter's academic progress. After viewing the film, Ms. Cochran and the parent, Lewis Bailey, who owns a television production company, decided that it could be used to help pre-kindergarten children prepare for school.

The film, which is narrated by Mr. Bailey's daughter, shows children playing with blocks, drawing with crayons, and singing songs. Ms. Cochran, who wrote the script, said the film is intended to calm nervous children and parents. She said the film has also been used in teacher workshops.

Copies of "Let's Go To Kindergarten" are available for $14.50 each and can be ordered by calling (800) 622-1415.

Child-support payments from absent fathers fell by 12 percent between 1983 and 1985, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, from an average of $2,530 in 1983 to $2,220 in 1985.

The report also found that more than half of the 4.4 million women who were entitled to such payments received only partial or no support from their ex-husbands.

Copies of "Child Support and Alimony: 1985," Series P-23, No. 152, are available for $1.50 each from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.--ef

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