WILLIAMS COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - A Williams County prosecutor filed charges against four minors in a bullying incident that allegedly happened on a school bus.
Both the Williams County Sheriff's Office and the Williams County Prosecutor's Office worked with two area schools before filing the charges.
Williams County Sheriff Steve Towns says the four teens are charged with assault, theft and unlawful restraint.
The alleged incident happened in September. Sheriff Towns says the victim is a 16-year-old boy, but he would not provide specific details about what happened. He also did not say which district the alleged incident occurred.
"We are making this announcement to send a clear message to young people in the county that incidents of any bullying nature will be investigated and prosecuted when evidence is clear," the sheriff's office and prosecutor said in a joint statement. "Young people have enough to deal with and the mistreatment of others whether it is physical or verbally tormenting another can be a crime and will be pursued by law enforcement when applicable."
Bullying is one of the initiatives Sheriff Towns wants to crackdown on in Williams County. He implies bullying is not just short term trauma for the victim, but can lead to much worse tragedies in the future.
"When you look at Sandy Hook and Columbine, a lot of those shootings started with kids that were somewhat bullied or had trouble in school with the bullying process," Sheriff Towns said.
Sheriff Towns says in cases of bullying, school districts should contact law enforcement if they believe there is a crime involved.
"We want to work with the schools," Sheriff Towns said. "They shouldn't consider it to be a stigma to report it or feel like, 'Oh, if we report this, it's going to make our school system look bad. We want to make sure we are out in front of it."
The four suspects remain in school. Meanwhile, they will be arraigned on January 18 in juvenile court.