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Kane prosecutors offer anti-bullying program to schools

Kane County States Attorney Joe McMah| Sun-Times Media

Kane County States Attorney Joe McMahon | Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 28, 2012 6:03AM

The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office is hoping to expand its anti-bullying program to more schools this school year

Until now, the prosecutor’s office has offered the program to schools that requested it. With a new school year starting, prosecutors are hoping to involve more schools.

The free program is designed as a three-part presentation: one for small groups with students, a training seminar for staff, and a presentation for parents.

The program begins with the prosecutors asking students to anonymously write about how they’ve been bullied and how they wish they were treated. The comments are used in the presentation to reinforce that bullying isn’t a problem that only happens somewhere else.

“These are actual examples from their schools,” said State’s Attorney Joe McMahon.

Bullying has changed through the years. McMahon said when he was in school, it was rare to interact with his peers after the end the school day. Now, students continue to talk to each other on the Internet and are text messaging for hours after school.

“Cyberbullying is rampant because it’s easy,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser, who runs the program.

Mosser and McMahon said parents need to be involved with any social media their kids are using, including having the passwords to Facebook or Twitter accounts. The presentation for parents will help them identify signs that their student may be a victim of bullying or may be a bully. For instance, McMahon said, parents should watch for unexplained scrapes and bruises, missing property or sudden lack of interest in school.

“While that might be normal after a fun summer break, if it persists it can be signs of a problem,” he said.

The state’s attorney’s office rarely ends up prosecuting cases of bullying, which is not a criminal charge. However, when the bullying becomes a battery or cyberstalking, prosecutors have filed charges in juvenile and adult court. McMahon believes some of the unchecked aggressive behavior of children translates into aggressive behavior as adults.

“What may seem like fun and games or control or popularity may have long-term consequences,” Mosser said.

Schools or parents looking for more information about the bullying program should contact Chris Nelson at the state’s attorney’s office at 630-232-3500.

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