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Justice Council Hosts Seminar on Bullying

Leaders worry adults don't know much about cyber-bullying.

Cyber-bullying is prevalent: 42 percent of kids have been bullied online. 35 percent have been threatened. 21 percent have received mean or threatening emails.

The Juvenile Justice Council, established by the , hosted a free seminar on bullying and cyber bullying at on Wednesday evening to help educate parents, students, teachers and community members on what bullying is and how to stop it.

“When we founded this council, we asked ourselves: What are ideas that are not being currently addressed?” said Kendall County State's Attoerney Eric Weis. “Drugs, drinking… they’re pretty well discussed. But what people don’t all know about is cyber bullying.”

Weis explained that almost everyone knows what “traditional” bullying is, which he described as a confrontation happening normally between two people that results in sometimes physical injuries or verbal taunts and harassment.

“Now you get into cyber bullying. It’s not as easy to see. You have to know what to look for,” he said.

Cyber bullying occurs over social networks, such as Facebook, and emails and texts.

“Facebook, Twitter, all those things that didn’t exist 20 years ago are now issues that our children are facing every single day,” said Weis. “The internet is a good tool, but only if used properly.”

And as Oswego Police Sergeant Jason Bastin had to say, all too often those tools are being misused.

“Cyber bullying is all encompassing,” Bastin said. “It becomes their reality. When someone says something negative about them, it shatters their whole world. And they don’t even think of the possibility to turn off their phones or shut down their computers.”

Jen Wikoff, the Oswego East High School Dean of Students, said she sees cyber bullying and other bullying on a regular basis.

“Bullying in itself is a category,” she said. “So many things fall underneath the category of bullying. What we really need to focus on is the actual behaviors of bullying.”

Both Wikoff and Bastin talked about ways to help prevent bullying, whether the child be the victim or a potential bully. Bastin said that the most important thing to do when receiving texts or messages from a cyber bully is to block them.

"To us, it’s the most obvious thing, but it’s not to kids," Bastin said. "Some of these bullies just want a reaction, and they don’t even know the person.”

But be sure to save those messages. They can be brought as evidence to the school or police if the bullying becomes a cause for physical and emotional concern.

Other ways to help prevent any type of bullying was for parents to be involved in their child’s life, help their child find an activity that they excelled in, be aware of online accounts and profiles.

Cassandra Daniels attended the seminar for her son, a fifth grader at Boulder Hill Elementary near Oswego who has encountered bullying. 

“I’m grateful they have this,” she said. “I’m grateful they’re giving parents tools and strategies to try and help our children. As a parent we need to make a better community for our children.”

Michelle Riordan has children at in Yorkville and . She said she attended Wednesday's session to learn and relay the information onto her children.

“Cyber bullying is becoming a large issue," she said. "I want to see what the school and we, as parents, can do.”

“It’s hard to be around and tolerate bullying,” said Yorkville Middle School student Lauren Jones. “I hope this can help.”

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