In wake of all the tragedies schools have faced, whether it be close to home such as Newtown, or farther and in the past like the Virginia Tech shooting, New Haven feels the effects and plans to act now to better protect themselves for the future.
A metal detector does not provide enough security, nor does it provide the feeling of trust or safety in schools. The solution is not to have armed personnel around every corner waiting for someone to open fire; however, the community is taking a step towards stopping violence with a new Community Resilience Program for the current generation of students.
The program was announced Monday, March 4, and will be built off of already existing support programs, such as Boost! and Alive (Animating Learning by Integrating and Validating Experience) that have been rolled out through the city’s schools.
“The program seeks to screen all students for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), create a New Haven Trauma Coalition to oversee the strategy, a citywide campaign to educate the public on mental health and childhood trauma, and continue efforts to support families,” said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. to the New Haven Register, when the program was announced.
This “proposed expansion of set of interventions,” will be available to every public school student. Healthy development of children is necessary for them to thrive in schools. Trauma has led students to a life of violence, incarceration and or development problems.
According to an article in the New Haven Register, “City officials cited a pilot program administered to kindergarteners in the Strong School. According to the pilot, 90 percent of kindergarteners reported some kind of ACE, though only 23 percent were displaying symptoms.”
State Sen. Toni Harp, co-chairwoman of the Mental Health Working Group of the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety, said that up until now, it has been ignored that violence is a public health issue. “Now is the time, and Connecticut is probably the most appropriate place to make a stand for non-violence and enhance public policy. Violence is an epidemic. It is a public health epidemic,” she said.
For this new Community Resilience Program to work, there will be annual screenings preformed on every student, numerous intervention programs, crisis teams established, advancements of mental health services, and the ultimate challenge of spreading awareness.
All the costs of the efforts made to support the new program add up. A total of $70,000 was requested to hire one new staff member, $4.7 million to expand intervention services at each school, $1.3 million for technical assistance and training, and approximately $450,000 to raise awareness through campaigns to inform the public.
Boost!, The United Way of Greater New Haven, the New Haven MOMS partnership, Clifford Beers Clinic, the Foundation for Arts and Trauma, New Haven Public Schools, the city, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the Comer School Development Program, the Yale Child Study Center and the New Haven Family Alliance are programs included in the entire collation.
“By addressing the needs of our children when they are young, we can ensure we have healthy happy and productive lives down the road,” Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo said.
However, while the schools and the community want to do all they can, a citizen commented on the article released in the New Haven Register regarding the new program and asked, “Meanwhile, what are the parents doing? Isn’t it like part of their job in raising children to install good character?”
So the question remains, will this new program work? Or is there more they can do?