Letter: DA's Decision on Prevention Programs Hurts Children & Families

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To the Editor:

For 15 years,the Community Outreach and Education Department (COE) in the Berkshire District Attorney's Office has provided student-based, educational and prevention programming to elementary, middle and high school students throughout Berkshire County. Tens of thousands of students have received vital educational programming and support on bullying, online safety, safe and healthy relationships, substance abuse and leadership.

These grant-funded programs required data collection and the Berkshire results continually showed positive outcomes for our students. Alongside student programming, staff and parents have received the training and guidance they need to support youth as they navigate the years where decisions about such important topics are made. Peer Leadership & LifeSkills programs, presented throughout the schools in our county, provide evidence-based, research-driven curriculums that give students the tools needed to mentor and support each other and make positive choices during these important formative years.

All of this student, staff and parent training and support is provided to our schools at no cost to our community and the district attorney's office and COE department has been recognized as a model for other offices across the state.

Sadly, District Attorney Harrington has made the recent decision to eliminate this important educational and prevention programming and we as a community should be asking why.

The people of this county voted for change but this decision is not moving forward toward positive change. COE has been a vital partner collaborating with youth service providers and other organizations who fight to support children and families. This is a huge loss to our schools and our community as a whole and I urge any student, parent or educator who has benefited from these programs to reach out to DA Harrington to voice your concern about her decision to eliminate this programming, as our youth will definitely suffer this loss.

Kristen Westerman Kanter
Great Barrington, Mass. 

Kanter is a former employee of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office.




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