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State’s Attorney forum focuses on cyberbullying

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 9:28 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 9:35 p.m. CST

MORRIS – Cyberbullying is becoming an increasingly dangerous threat, Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland said.

And as kids often surpass their parents in using Internet-driven applications, such as smartphones and social media, it’s becoming more important for parents to know how to spot cyberbullying.

That’s why Helland and the Grundy County No Tolerance Task Force are hosting an anti-bullying forum at 6 p.m. Oct. 7 in the auditorium at Morris Community High School.

“In my opinion, there has been an increase as far as complaints about issues happening in cyberspace,” Helland said. “It’s an issue that the schools are dealing with daily, as well as law enforcement.”

Paula Goodwin, who is with the task force, said meetings with school principals and counselors have yielded discussions about bullying.

“Every time, they’re talking about how they’re getting calls from parents saying their kids said this, or how do we get rid of this [online content],” Goodwin said.

The forum is aimed at parents, as well as school faculty and administrators. Participants will learn how bullying and teasing can cause depression and, in some instances, result in suicide.

Christine Feller, Internet safety specialist from the Illinois Attorney General’s office, will talk about cyberbullying trends, sexting and online predators, and how to spot bullying on children’s phones and social media accounts.

Parents also will hear from Cathy Gettle, a former Coal City resident who lost her son to depression and suicide in 2002. Gettle is an advocate for suicide prevention who has spoken with parents and children in several states about bullying and suicide.

While the Oct. 7 forum is for parents and adults, an anti-bullying assembly for students will take place Oct. 8 at Morris Community High School.

“This whole thing is a proactive approach to prevent bullying,” Helland said. “Basically, I hope parents can see the signs and symptoms of being the bully or the victim.”

IF YOU GO

What: Anti-bullying forum

When: 6 p.m. Oct. 7

Where: Auditorium at Morris Community High School, 1000 Union St., Morris

Who: The forum is aimed at parents as well as school faculty and administrators

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