Honolulu CrimeStoppers educating teens about dangers of cyber-bullying and how they can help others
Honolulu Police are cautioning the public that bullying and teen suicide are on the rise.
The Department of Health reports suicide is the leading cause of death for kids in Hawai'i.
"We're here to educate them, we're here to empower them," Sergeant Chris Kim of Honolulu CrimeStoppers said when he spoke to students on Thursday.
The program started in 1997 and every school year Sergeant Kim and other officers share their message with students.
Sergeant Kim introduced a tool where they can report bullying and other crimes anonymously without the fear of someone finding out.
Last year, students on O'ahu reported 252 tips which led to 41 arrests or disciplinary action.
"It was very helpful. It made me more safe and more cautious," Sacred Hearts student Jaeda Verano said.
Sergeant Kim spent an hour warning the girls about the dangers of posting to social media, online predators, and the consequences of cyber-bullying.
"I think the problem in this day and age is that people try to glamorize bullying and fighting thing. We need to change our culture," Sergeant Kim said. "Gone are the days where you can just consider it horseplay. We have to start taking things seriously. It's getting out of hand."
Kim says cyber-bullying is illegal and depending on the severity, it can be classified as harassment or assault. But even worse, Kim says in his years as a homicide detective, he's seen teasing turn deadly.
"We've had cases where bullying leads to suicides. Kids need to think about how their actions could lead to someone taking their own life. It's happening nationwide," Sergeant Kim said.
"I was thinking about all of the teenagers who feel confused about this and how they can always talk to CrimeStoppers and their parents about this," Verano said.
If students are being bullied Kim suggests taking screenshots, blocking the person and reporting it to an adult and to the student CrimeStoppers by phone, the app or online.