301 W. Franklin Street
Taylorville, IL 62568
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CHRISTIAN COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
CORRECTIONAL CENTER * 9-1-1 CENTER
301 W. FRANKLIN STREET P. O. BOX 678 • TAYLORVILLE, IL 62568
SHERIFF BRUCE KETTELKAMP PHONE (217) 824-4961 (C) 217-820-0758
CHIEF DEPUTY FAX (217) 824-4963 SHERIFF’S OFFICE
BRUCE ENGELING FAX (217) 824-7890 9-1-1/COMMUNICATIONS
FROM THE SHERIFF’S DESK VOL 3 NR 12
By Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp
BULLYING -- WE’VE GOT TO STOP IT!
To some degree, there has always been bullying in schools. Bullying that occurred in the past was commonly made through a more one on one personal basis. It was mostly done in school by comments made at lunchtime in the cafeteria or during gym time. A sizeable amount of the time, these comments and actions were not witnessed by others. The victim was the only person directly affected by the "bully", as he, or she, was the only one that knew what really occurred.
Technology brought an end to the practical limitations of bullying, previously limiting it to schoolyards or street corners.
As a result, the growth of bullying has become staggering. Not only did the number of bullying episodes increase, but the seriousness of the activities and the impact they made on many younger people have reached life-threatening measures. The worst cases, all too often, end in the victims being unable to withstand the damage they have been afflicted with. The result was they took the only action they thought was the answer, suicide. Suicides have become more common, with cases showing up in the media all around the nation.
Currently, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, totaling about 4,000 per year. For every suicide among these youngsters, there are probably 100 attempts or more. Such figures are not only limited to the United States. A British study concluded at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying.
One major way bullying is accomplished today is through social media. Cyberbullying has become a huge threat since it can occur almost anywhere, at any time – at home, via email, texts, cell phones and social media websites, where it can be viewed 24 hours a day. This not only targets the victim, but incorporates a whole new group of "bullies" within their social network.
Schools today are working to help teens recognize the true nature of bullying threats by issuing lists of specific conducts that constitute bullying.
Here is a typical example:
*Wearing gang paraphernalia and other clothing meant to intimidate or exclude another individual.
*Spreading rumors or posting degrading, harmful, or explicit pictures, messages or information using social media.
*Physical acts of bullying, such as punching, slapping, or tripping someone.
*Taunting or making sexual slurs about a person’s gender orientation.
*Name calling, joking, or making offensive remarks about a person’s religion, gender or ethnicity.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO OVERCOME BULLYING AND ITS TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES?
While there are no federal laws specifically aiming at bullying, most states have passed laws to help achieve that result. Illinois has passed several laws from 2002 to 2010.
The Illinois law, specifically fighting Cyberbullying, was passed in 2010. These laws deal with the key parts of the activity, providing instruction on how to create policies concentrating on important elements of the problem.
Governor Quinn signed a law on June 27, 2010, which updated developments that were relatively new at the time. For example, it expanded the definition of bullying to include any communications through writing or electronic means, specifically including social networking web sites.
The laws also encouraged many special groups, such as the National PTA in March of 2011, as they launched an initiative to encourage PTAs throughout the country to engage in these activities.
Many Illinois communities, some working with the State’s Attorney General’s Office, have created their own lists of preferred ways to improve the situation.
Meanwhile, most states that didn't have specific anti-bullying laws at the time took action. By 2012, 49 states had passed legislation to protect bullying victims. Many of the laws required schools to educate students about the effects of bullying and to set procedures to protect them against such behavior. At least one state requires that schools post a list of bullying incidents on their website. Another state requires teachers to report bullying to child protective services.
The city of Boston established an Anti-Bullying Hotline for students and families to get accurate information and to send text messages about the problems. They then worked with various local services to create and make available professional development for school personnel, workshops for parents, and special training for new-hire teachers
The laws are not always as applicable as might be hoped. Some state laws only apply to public schools.
Cyber bullying will continue to grow unless we can fully involve parents and students to recognize the dangers it poses and to successfully stop the actions that allow it to flourish.
Attorney-General Lisa Madigan published a press release that contained seven key principles of Internet Safety. They are absolutely essential to avoid the terrible impact of cyberbullying. Parents should make it a frequent review with their children.
The seven principles are:
1. Never post personal information online.
2. Don’t put strangers on your buddy list.
3. Don’t post potentially embarrassing images of yourself online.
4. Remember that anyone can read blogs.
5. Communicate only with friends and family.
6. Tell your parents if you receive
anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, and…
For the past three years I have had the honor, and great pleasure, of being Sheriff of Christian County. It has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experience in my law enforcement career. I truly love being Sheriff and hope to continue being your Sheriff for many more years.
Meg and I, along with our family, would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
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