CHICAGO (CBS) – Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said he favors criminal prosecutions of school bullies who take things too far.
WBBM’s Bernie Tafoya reports the sheriff said he’s not suggesting every bully be prosecuted, but when their intention is clear and severe, and that they “have crossed every conceivable line out there”, he says “absolutely” they should be brought up on charges.
Dart said most adults don’t realize how different things are in school now, compared to when they are in school – that bullying is not what it used to be, thanks to the prevalence of social media and cell phones.
He said, in the past, kids could go home after school, to their own bubble, where they were surrounded by people who cared about them.
Now, “the bubble’s gone,” Dart said.
“Now what we have is 24/7 ability for someone to terrorize some poor child, via Facebook, via Twitter, via texting; you name it,” he said.
For the past five years, Sheriff Dart has had a team that gives anti-bullying talks at schools, stressing to victims they can find help and escape being bullied and stressing to bullies that there are consequences, including the possibility of being criminally prosecuted.
Dart said he believes the program is a success, but admitted there’s no way to gauge how successful the program has been.
He said more adults need to get involved when cases of bullying surface, to prevent tragedies like the recent suicide of a 12-year-old girl in Florida.
“The proper response is to intervene. It is not to let it play out. It is not to sit there and say, ‘Well, this is okay. It’s just growing up. Everyone’s gone through it.’ Those are all inappropriate,” Dart said.
He said adults need to let children know there are direct consequences to bullying.