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Students get lesson on gangs, bullying
Students learn about bullying and gangs

 Anna Brown instructs fourth-graders in Mrs. Bell's class at A.G. Richardson Elementary School. The Sheriff's Office is working to teach youngsters about both bullying and gangs.
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Date published: 1/17/2010

BY DONNIE JOHNSTON

Culpeper fourth-graders are learning that both bullying and belonging to gangs are bad.

Resource officers from the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office are spending time explaining state laws that deal with bullying and gangs to fourth-graders in all county public schools.

Under Virginia statutes, a criminal street gang is any group of three or more persons who gather to break laws.

Resource officers are teaching students about gang-related activities, including destroying property and writing graffiti on walls and buildings.

Sheriff Jim Branch determined that this type of education was necessary after gang-related activities were documented in elementary, middle and high schools last year.

No violent incidents have occurred, but graffiti has identified local youths with nationally known gangs, according to public information officer Corey Byers.

Children as young at 10 are being recruited, according to Deputy Anna Brown, a fact she says surprises many fourth-graders.

This education is part of a Reducing Gangs in Virginia program initiated in 1996 and managed by the Virginia attorney general's office.