Utica, NY (WIBX) - The Arts West Alliance is hoping to establish a program to reduce the amount of bullying in West Utica.

Oneida County Legislator Harmony Speciale has taken the lead, discussing possible online options and funding opportunities for anti-bullying programs.

She says harmful behavior doesn't just happen at school, but in neighborhoods and online. If it goes unchecked, bullying may eventually lead to other problems when the child grows up.

"Studies show that anti-social behavior, bullying or anything of that nature... that leads to drug and alcohol addiction, robberies, burglaries and different things like that," Speciale said. "So yes, it does have a direct correlation with crime throughout the area, especially in West Utica."

A small group of people attended the meeting at Jeanette's Diner in West Utica, including Christopher Robinton. He says he joined after his son was attacked one day by a group of kids after school.

"Our kids should be able to go to school safely," Robinton said. "Our kids should be able to walk home. I shouldn't have to leave my job an hour early to go pick my son up, or have my brother or have one of my family members pick my kids up because I'm afraid for their safety going home."

Robinton also says his child's school has denied that problems exist, but he is quick to point out the recent incident involving a BB gun at Donovan Middle School.

Speciale says more meetings are in the works and that moving forward, she would like to establish a free series of lessons to identify youth violence.