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Officials, advocates gather for anti-bullying forum

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The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office hosted an anti-bullying forum Saturday at Butler University. According to organizers, ‘End Bullying Now’ was aimed at providing strategies for parents, educators, coaches, law enforcement officers and others to recognize and prevent bullying.

“I’m here because this is an issue I feel strongly about,” said psychologist Dennis Ray Kinder.

State Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) also spoke at Saturday’s forum, talking about recent changes to Indiana’s bullying law, while also addressing the issue of cyber-bullying.

“Cyber-bullying is something we really have to address because it’s huge in our society,” said Rep. Porter.

“Cyber-bullying is real and it happens,” said deputy prosecutor Kevonna Tyler. “Look at (your child’s) cell phones, look at their iPads, to see what your child’s media life is like.”

Representatives from the prosecutor’s office also presented Project CyberSafe, an interactive safety initiative that teaches parents and students about the implications of cyber-bullying. Developed two years ago, the program has already reached more than 9,000 students across Marion County.

“Our goal today is to bring together expert speakers to talk about the subject of bullying to give people tools on how to identify bullying and how to respond to bullying,” said Annie Kern, community outreach director for the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

“(Bullying) brings a lot of emotional turmoil, and a lot of emotional difficulties, not only for the kids but for their families,” said Kinder. “A lot of them are refusing to attend school or having significant emotional symptoms… it is ugly on the back end.”