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McCaleb: Be kind, educated; confront the bully

Published: Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 5:27 p.m. CDT

More than 70 percent of educators from McHenry County school districts say they respond to a bullying-related disciplinary problem at least twice a month. Almost 40 percent say they deal with bullying issues on a weekly basis. And more than 60 percent think that bullying is a bigger problem today than five years ago.

That’s according to 50 local principals, teachers and other school officials who responded to a survey conducted by the McHenry County Regional Office of Education and the Northwest Herald for a special investigative report that begins Wednesday.

“Confronting the Bully” is a four-day Northwest Herald series that will explore bullying in McHenry County and what we can do to stop it, or at least reduce it.

For the past several months, reporter Chelsea McDougall has interviewed bullying victims, family members of bullying victims, educators and other professionals who deal with bullying on a regular basis.

Bullying has been a hot topic across the U.S., with a couple of nationally released documentaries and several high-profile cases of bullying that led to suicides. But we all must recognize that bullying is a serious local problem, too.

More importantly, we must understand that parents, educators and our children can play a large role in helping to prevent it. Prevention largely is the goal of our series.

Going back to our survey, 24 percent of respondents said that victims are not likely to report being bullied. And 87 percent said that many parents get defensive when told that their child had bullied another.

We can’t reduce the amount of bullying that goes on in our schools, neighborhoods and online if many of our kids are too scared to report it, and parents of bullies won’t acknowledge the problem.

Please spend some time with “Confronting the Bully” this week. If you have any thoughts or ideas, write us a letter to the editor, comment on the stories at NWHerald.com, or just send me an email and I can share it in a future column.

As part of this project, we also are co-sponsoring a special screening of “Finding Kind,” a documentary film about girl-on-girl bullying and boys’ role in it. The screening to a discussion on bullying will begin at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at McHenry High School West Campus.

The makers of “Finding Kind,” Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, will be at the event and talk about their cross-country journey in making the film. They’ll also answer questions from the audience.

The public is invited to this free event. McHenry West’s gym holds more than 2,000 people, so plan to attend if you can.

• • •

Making a difference: Woodstock-based Family Health Partnership Clinic announced plans last week to build a larger facility in Crystal Lake, closer to public transportation, a larger population base, and its invaluable network of volunteers.

The Sage Center for Care will be built on Congress Parkway, just north of Route 14, near a number of medical offices and other clinics. Executive Director Suzanne Hoban made the public announcement Thursday at the future home of the clinic, which will be 9,200 square feet. That’s double its current space in Woodstock, which is at capacity.

FHPC is a nonprofit health care provider that serves McHenry County’s uninsured and underinsured. It is not a free clinic. All patients pay on a sliding-fee schedule based on income and other factors. Last year, the clinic served about 3,000 people, though the county has an estimated 40,000 people with no insurance. It operates largely on the generous donation of time and services of area doctors, nurses and other volunteers.

The Sage Center is named for Sage Products, whose founder, Vincent Foglia, has been a longtime supporter of FHPC.

“I knew Suzanne had the fever,” Foglia said, recalling the day when he decided to partner with Hoban. “The fever was to help people and deliver care.”

For the past 16 years, Hoban and her team have been doing exactly that.

Construction is expected to start in March, with a targeted opening in August.

About $2.1 million for the $3.2 million project already has been raised. The clinic hopes to have the remaining $1.1 million raised before the opening.

For information about donating to this very worthy cause, call FHPC development coordinator Cathy Patenaude at 815-334-8987, ext. 24, or visit the clinic’s website, http://www.hpclinic.org.

• • •

Election Central: Questionnaire responses from candidates in contested races on the Nov. 6 ballot are now available on our website.

You can read about where candidates running for McHenry County Board, state representative and senator, and Congress stand on a variety of issues at elections.nwherald.com (no www. or http:// needed). You also can get to Election Central from our home page, NWHerald.com, by mousing over the “News” link at the top of the page, scrolling down and clicking on the “Election Central” link.

The answers you’ll find there are unfiltered by us. They are the exact responses to our questions from the candidates themselves.

Coming soon to the site will be dozens of videos of the candidates answering our questions during face-to-face meetings with News Editor Kevin Lyons and me, both members of our Editorial Board. Lyons and I met with most County Board candidates last week.

We have a couple of more meetings this week, with candidates for District 26 state Senate and District 52 state representative, before we’ll start posting the videos by race. Please pay a visit. It’s a useful way to learn about the candidates ahead of the election.

• • •

Comics change: The eight-year run of “Cul de Sac” comes to an end today as its creator, Richard Thompson, is retiring. Thompson suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and he decided it was time to devote 100 percent of his focus on his health. We wish him the best.

Replacing “Cul de Sac” starting Monday will be “Stone Soup,” written and illustrated by Jan Eliot. The strip focuses on single mother Val and her two children, Alix, 10, and Holly, 13.

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve made changes to our comics page. Now’s as good a time as any to ask for feedback on our current lineup. What strips do you like? Which ones don’t you care for? Are there strips you’ve seen elsewhere that you’d like to see us pick up?

My contact information is below. We appreciate your feedback.

• • •

Big things coming: PlanitNorthwest.com celebrates its third birthday in October, and we’ve got big plans for it. The go-and-do website for McHenry County and northern Illinois is chock full of reduced-price vouchers, coupons and other deals from area restaurants, retailers and other businesses.

PlanitNorthwest.com also is a hub for information about fun things to do in the area, sort of like Northwest Herald’s Sidetracks and other feature sections.

Come to think of it, PlanitNorthwest.com shares a number of traits with our Thursday entertainment section.

Hmmm. That’s got me thinking. What if the two joined forces and ...

Well, I’ve given too much away already. More details to come soon.

• Dan McCaleb is senior editor of the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at 915-526-4603, or by email at dmccaleb@shawmedia.com. Follow him on twitter @NWHeditor.

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