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Home Town Stories-Blue Kids in Lake County

Blue Kid Banners are popping up all over Lake County

Blue Kid Banners are popping up all over Lake County

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and to show your support you can purchase your Blue Kids sign to display outside your business, organization, or school at for only $10. I picked up my two signs when I was out at the College of Lake County for the first in a series of training classes for teachers, school nurses, counselors, social workers, attorneys, and other school staff or community members. Each Tuesday evening in April there will be informative training sessions that are specifically focused on raising healthy children and deterring abusive behavior.
This week’s class was on bullying and let me tell you this is a major problem in this county. Sponsored by the 19th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council and the College of Lake County, the large classroom was filled with people trying to understand bullying and how the current situation can be improved in the schools.
Karishma Kamath Brownlee an Outreach Advocate at the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center spoke about the different kinds of bullying, how the bully starts a cycle that is very hard to break without proper intervention, and she listed the Three Rights of a Child; to be safe, strong, and free. She also explained that a victim can become a bully and subsequently an anti-social adult as he learns from his experiences and his abuse interferes with his relationships with others.
Brownlee believes the bystander who ignores the bullying is actually contributing to the abuse. “What we tolerate, we teach and someone else learns” really hit home for all of us. Hearing the stories from the participants from their own experiences, the schools they work in, or their own children made me realize that this is not just a phase or simple childhood rite of passage, but just as cruel and violent as any physical or sexual abuse for the victims.
Before she turned the podium over to the next speaker, Brownlee described the services at the Zacharias Center on Old Grand in Gurnee offered to groups and schools to educate children about making healthy choices, bullying, “stranger danger”, self-defense techniques, and sexual abuse tailored to the age and maturity of the youngest child to a high school teen. The website has a pledge to sign. The most important line goes something like this- I Can Help Change Things (I Can Be a Leader)…I Won’t Stand By, I Will Stand Up”.
The last half hour, Claudia K. Kasten, Chief of the Juvenile Trial Division, which is part of the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office was equally informative about bullying and how it affects the children on so many levels in society. She spoke about the Lake County After School Coalition and how it’s dedicated to quality programs for children based on the community’s need regardless of their socio-economic situation.
Kasten mentioned that on April 27th, there is a Youth Summit at CLC for area middle school and high school students, the 9th Annual Girl-Wise Conference for middle and high school girls also at CLC on Saturday, April 28th, 9am to 3pm, and a program just launched called “Rise-Above” from Michael Waller’s Office that deals with the end of bullying once and for all. She reiterated that there were supplemental programs available and educational presentations for faculty, staff, parents, and students for the county’s schools through the State’s Attorney. “Bullying is a form of youth violence, our goal is to stop it before it starts’!
It really is amazing how many dedicated people are working behind the scenes to give our children a better future, who stand up against the status quo, and share their knowledge for the common good. That’s what I’m talking about Lake County. Until next time…

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