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Juvenile courts treat adolescents rather than punish following bullying cases

Cole County Juvenile Division administrator, Michael Couty, said referrals for bullying cases typically come in from the Jefferson City Police Department or Cole County Sheriff's Department. (Caileigh Peterson/KRCG)

KRCG 13's Caileigh Peterson sat down with Cole County Juvenile Division administrator, Michael Couty about how bullying cases are handled in the juvenile office.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

Who refers cases:

"It would be the actual police department or Cole County Sheriff's Department because it would either be a resource officer or it could be if a resource officer is not available they will then contact through dispatch getting an officer to the school."

When cases are referred:

"Those cases are referred when they feel that they have a credible issue and needs to be addressed. A lot of times it may be an issue that maybe they take care of through discipline type issues working with the student administration and the parents. When the issue prolongs, they will then make that referral to juvenile court."

How cases are presented to Juvenile Division:

"It can come in a number of ways. Either through assault charges through actually bullying itself as a charge, or even as a terrorist threat because of the nature of the situation. We will get those referrals coming through in the Cole County Sheriff's Department or the Jefferson City Police Department."

Evidence in bullying cases:

"We look at the probably cause statement that we receive and then from there we will look at if there is a history of this type of activity going on. You'll look at if there has been issues going on in the home with other siblings. Looking at it within the community if there's been issues identified and also getting collateral information from the family. We're wanting always to also make sure we do a psychological in order to make sure there's not trauma issues going on that could contribute to that."

When to prosecute:

"If we have all the services we need and can take it on an informal basis we will do that. If it persists we will then take it to formal case and we will take it to be heard in front of our juvenile court judge."


Punishments in juvenile bullying cases:

"When you look at juvenile court, we're not in the business of punishing. We're in the business of treatment and rehabilitation. We will look at what kind of treatment is needed if any is needed at that point. That could include setting the individual up for counseling, individual counseling, family counseling, or therapy. We don't look at it from a punitive standpoint, but we look at it from a therapeutic standpoint."



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