Bullying Addressed by “Scary” National Campaign

Bullying addressed by national campaign
Photo: Diego Grez/Wikimedia Commons

A two-year-old campaign against bullying is finding popularity and success, especially during the month of October, which is not only the month for Halloween but also National Bullying Prevention Month. The “Don’t Be a Monster” campaign attempts to entertain students but also educate them about the serious nature of bullying. “Don’t Be a Monster” was established in 2012 in Austin, Texas. The program has found its way to Utah where two friends–one of whom is a set designer for the Nightmare on 13th Haunted House–visit area schools in Halloween costumes and relate their own experiences.

One of the friends, Val Chadwick Bagley, is the set designer and confesses that he was a bully in high school before someone intervened and changed his direction. The other man, Steven Duggar, comes out dressed as a Frankenstein’s monster-type of character. For Duggar, he was the victim of bullying in his younger years.

The Utah version of the “Don’t Be a Monster” campaign has had great success so far. They intend to spread their message to approximately 8,000 students during the month of October.

The Real Monsters Behind Bullying

Bullying statistics are somewhat alarming, especially when it comes to the disconnect between what adults perceive and what children are actually experiencing. Here are two examples:

  • 60 percent of middle school students say they have been bullied; Only 16 percent of staff believed students are bullied.
  • 25 percent of students say teachers intervened in the bullying incidents; 71% of teachers say they intervened.

Other alarming statistics deal with the potential repercussions of bullying–escalated violence and criminal tendencies not only from the bully but also the victim.

  • A bully is five times more likely to have a serious criminal record by the time he/she grows up and six times more likely to be incarcerated by age 24.
  • Two-thirds of bullied students become bullies themselves.
  • 30 percent of students who reported being bullied also stated they had at times brought weapons to school.
  • Bullying was found to be a factor in two-thirds of the school shootings reviewed by the U.S. Secret Service.

Bullying in Utah

Bullying is obviously a serious problem. While the state doesn’t have laws designating criminal punishment of juvenile bullies, it is obvious that a failure to address the problem while young can lead to legal problems later.

While there aren’t laws designating consequences for bullying, according to Utah Legal Code Annotated 53A-11-904, bullying is grounds for suspension or expulsion from school.

However, carrying that bullying to an act of physical aggression, either by the bully or the victim, is a crime. If your child has been accused of assault related to bullying, make sure to contact a juvenile defense attorney who is sympathetic and experienced and will look out for your child’s best interests.

School Stabbing Leaves More Than 20 Wounded, Some Critically

Photo: Isaac Tovar

A 16-year-old boy allegedly injured more than 20 people at a school stabbing in Pennsylvania, leaving authorities with more questions than answers about the motive behind the attack.

School Stabbing Leaves Many Questions

Other students and adults who witnessed the attack stated that the young man didn’t have any unusual look on his face nor did they have a sense that this particular boy could or would commit such violence.

This particular crime seems to have caught many people off guard, since most schools now have plans in place should a shooting occur but a school stabbing isn’t the norm. There were a couple of schools in Texas, though, who have experienced stabbings within the past several months.

It’s probably nearly impossible to predict when a student or other person might commit an attack on a school. There’s little to no information about the boy in question in this incident, but it’s likely that more details will come to light as time passes and the investigation continues.

Case May be Handled in Adult Court

It is reported that prosecutors will try to have this young man treated as an adult instead of being taken care of in the juvenile court system.

Let Us Help Your Child–and You

We are Utah juvenile defense attorneys who will work hard to protect the rights and interests of your child, should he become involved in the juvenile justice system. Minors deserve the same protection and advice that adults receive, and it’s vital that they have an attorney on their side as early as possible.

There’s a reason that kids’ cases are handled in juvenile court as opposed to adult court, and we are diligent in our efforts to keep kids where they can best be served–and that’s not with the grown-ups.

If your child is in legal trouble, help him or her by contacting us today. It may be the best choice you’ll ever make on your child’s behalf.

Deaths of Utah Teens Ruled a Murder-Suicide

A South Jordan community was struck with tragedy a couple of weeks ago when two Utah teens were found dead in the basement of a home.

Photo: Rodrigo Gomez Sanz

What Happened?

The boys’ deaths, a 12-year-old and 15-year-old, were recently determined to be the result of a murder-suicide; the 15-year-old was apparently responsible for both the younger teen’s and his own death. Authorities have yet to state a reason, if one is known, for the motive(s) behind the tragic deaths—although they have noted that they aren’t sure if the murder was accidental or intentional.

Stolen Guns Found in Home

The gun used in the shootings had been reportedly listed as stolen that same day, along with two other guns found in the home. Three other Utah teens were in the home’s basement at the time of the shootings; very little information about them has been released and no charges have been filed at this point.

Be Involved with your Kids

Even though these boys’ deaths occurred before the holiday season, it’s a good time to note that there are a lot of Utah teens who may feel more emotionally or financially desperate at this time of year. Parents cannot be held responsible for a lot of things their teenagers decide to do, but it’s helpful if adults try to keep tabs on their kids’ activities.

Talk to a Utah Juvenile Defense Attorney

Kids, like adults, can get into trouble at the craziest times. If your child has run across the law in a negative way, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Utah juvenile defense attorney. Having an attorney on your child’s side may be the best gift you can give to him or her. Make that important phone call today.

Utah Teen Arrested After Supposed Gang Shooting

West Valley City police have arrested a Utah teen they believe was involved in a suspected gang shooting last week.

Photo: TC Crouch

What Happened?

Two groups of rival gang members got into a verbal tussle in the early hours of last Friday morning and were allegedly leaving the area when one teen, the suspect arrested, is believed to have fired several rounds at the other group. Police stated that no one reported to any local healthcare facility for treatment for a gunshot wound.

The Utah teen suspected of doing the shooting was arrested and the other occupants in the same vehicle were released to their parents.

What is a Criminal Street Gang?

A criminal street gang is described as an organization, association in fact, or group of three or more people that has:

• As one of its primary activities the commission of one or more gang crimes
• As a group, an identifying name or identifying sign or symbol, or both
• Members who engage in, or have engaged in, a pattern of criminal gang activity

There are enhanced penalties for members of criminal street gangs who commit certain offenses and who are found to have committed the offense

• With two or more people
• For the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with the gang or
• To gain recognition, membership, acceptance or increased status with the gang

Talk to an Attorney

Most Utah teens who commit an offense are handled within the jurisdiction of a Utah juvenile court. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, a teen’s case may be transferred to adult court. In order to help make sure that your child’s case is handled in the best way possible, you should talk to a Utah juvenile defense attorney before going into court.

The right attorney can help see that your child is treated fairly and respectfully. Do what’s best for your son or daughter by contacting a Utah juvenile defense attorney today.

Utah Soccer Player Charged with Homicide by Assault

A 17-year-old soccer player has been charged in a Utah juvenile court with homicide by assault following an incident where he allegedly punched a referee; the referee died several days after the supposed assault.

Photo: Shawn Rossi

The Salt Lake County district attorney is reportedly going to attempt to have the youth certified as an adult, thereby transferring the juvenile case to district court.

What is Homicide by Assault?

Under Utah law, homicide by assault occurs when

• A person causes the death of someone else (under circumstances that aren’t classified as aggravated murder, murder or manslaughter) while intentionally or knowingly attempting with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another.

Homicide by assault is a third degree felony. If a person is found guilty of a third degree felony in adult district court, he could possibly be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

On the other hand, being found guilty of a crime in juvenile court can come with entirely different consequences, some of which may include: detention, work hours, community service and/or fines.

What Will Happen?

Whether or not the case will be handed over to district court depends on the results of a certification hearing to be held in juvenile court. Many factors will be taken into account in that hearing, not the least of which may include the youth’s previous delinquency history (if any), his school record and a psychological evaluation.

What’s your opinion? Should a hot-headed juvenile be treated as an adult? If the juvenile is given adult status, will the punishment fit the crime? We’re certain there will be many points-of-view on these subjects.

Don’t think that your teen has to be charged with a serious crime to warrant the services of an experienced Utah juvenile defense attorney. Anytime a juvenile is charged with an offense, he deserves to have his own legal representation. Call a top Utah juvenile defense attorney today.