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The acronym, F.O.C.U.S., stands for "Filtering Out Crime United with Students". F.O.C.U.S. is taught to 5th graders by their elementary School Resource Deputy that serves at their school. The F.O.C.U.S. program was created by Deputies Kevin Purinton, Phil Gaffney, Scott Farmer, and Tim Langer of our School Resource Deputy Program. We felt that our drug and violence education program at the Citrus County Sheriff's Office should be tailored to meet the needs of students in our county, so this program was developed specifically for that purpose. We began using this new drug and violence education program in August 2000. Some of the topics that are covered include drug education, resolving conflicts, gang awareness, assertiveness, peer pressure, consequences, self-esteem, and cyber safety.

F.O.C.U.S. is 10 weeks long and therefore is a little shorter than the 17 week DARE program. This allows for greater flexibility. With only about 18 weeks of school in each semester, it was hard to accommodate all 17 weeks of DARE due to school holidays, school testing, field trips, law enforcement training days, and other unforeseen events such as hurricane days.

Our mascot is Otis the Owl. We also use various "eyeball" related items to represent F.O.C.U.S. The eyeball stands for "FOCUSing" on crime. The F.O.C.U.S. t-shirt is given to each student who completes the F.O.C.U.S. program. Students also participate in a F.O.C.U.S. essay contest where they compose an essay detailing what they have learned in F.O.C.U.S.  A winner from each class is chosen and receives an Otis the Owl F.O.C.U.S. medallion.

If you have any questions or would like more information about the program, please contact Sgt. Jeff Hunter at (352) 697-2896.


Junior F.O.C.U.S.

After the Citrus County Sheriff's Office School Resource Deputy Program had designed and implemented the F.O.C.U.S. program for the 5th grade students of Citrus County, a longtime School Resource Deputy recognized the need for Citrus County’s youngest citizens to learn basic safety lessons so they could be even safer at home and in their neighborhoods.

The result was Junior F.O.C.U.S. (Filtering Out Crime United with Students), a program taught to all 1st grade students in Citrus County. This mini-program consists of six easy-to-follow safety lessons that can be taught at any time throughout the school year.

Youngsters learn about the proper safety procedures to follow when faced with situations involving the following items:

  1. the front door
  2. the telephone
  3. the kitchen
  4. if they find something
  5. how to respect each other
  6. how to be safe with people they don’t know

For instance, in the lesson entitled “The Kitchen", kids learn about the potential dangers located in the family kitchen. Students are taught to know which areas in the kitchen are most likely to harm them. Even though the kitchen may seem like a fun place, youngsters learn about the obvious and hidden dangers there, and what rules to follow.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Junior F.O.C.U.S., please contact Sgt. Jeff Hunter at (352) 697- 2896.

Child Lures

The Child Lures program is a 10-week program taught to 3rd graders by their elementary School Resource Deputy. The curriculum reinforces the importance of treating one another with kindness and respect, the foundation of all healthy relationships. Abusers are usually someone known to the child, including family members and peers. Students recall that crimes like bullying, harassment, and sexual abuse are against the law and can be reported to a Trusted Adult; All Secrets Can Be Told.

Students also learn how to recognize and evade the Child Lures commonly used to groom and abuse youngsters, online and offline. Using critical thinking skills, they practice avoidance and refusal strategies in class discussions and practice scenarios. The earlier we begin to teach children the basics of healthy social relationships and respecting self and others, the better able are we to stop the cycle of abuse, both by peers and adults. In doing so, we help keep children safe, healthy and ready to learn.

The most prevalent personal safety issues facing children today involve bullying and sexual exploitation, including web-enabled offenses. Fortunately, most of these crimes are preventable with awareness and education.

Think First & Stay Safe program provides developmentally appropriate instruction on:

  • Healthy and respectful relationships (family and social)
  • Setting, maintaining and respecting personal boundaries.
  • Developing and maintaining effective communication with trusted adults
  • Recognizing bullying and sexually offending behaviors & learning prevention strategies
  • Gaining awareness of available local and national resources (including for Youngsters having thoughts of abusing others)
  • Reporting any type of abuse or threat to a youngster's health and safety
  • Reducing the feelings of guilt and blame often experienced by children who are mistreated

If you have any questions or would like more information about the program, please contact Sgt. Jeff Hunter at (352) 697-2896.