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Councillor requests more money for school resource officers

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  Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri wants Mayor Brian Arrigo to explore the possibility of funding additional School Resource Officers in the municipal budget. Silvestri presented the motion at last Monday night’s City Council meeting, stating the additional school officers could help support and identify students struggling with mental health issues.

  “These past couple years have been a major challenge for everyone,” said Silvestri.

  Silvestri cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing a 31 percent increase in adolescents going to the emergency room for suspected suicidal ideations or attempts, and he added that over 140,000 children in the country have lost either one or both parents to COVID-19.

  “It’s impacted hugely and disproportionately children of color,” he said. “Our teachers, our school staff and our safety officers are doing a great job in our schools, and I can commend them for what they have added to their plate besides teaching our students. They are becoming mental health professionals as well, and the motion is to ask the mayor to look into the feasibility of adding funding to our School Resource Officers and helping them identify at-risk and high-risk students with mental health challenges.”

  Silvestri said he is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder himself, and that the mental health challenges of the past two years have been tough on him, as well.

  “The backlog and lack of support in our healthcare system is showing now, and it is screaming in our classrooms,” said Silvestri. “The COVID-19 is starting to disperse and subside, but the mental health of our students and children are going to be around for several years to come.”

  Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe said he supported Silvestri’s motion, but noted that the school department has been taking some steps to address mental health issues, including a recent forum in conjunction with the city’s Substance Use Disorder Initiative and Revere Cares. “As a parent of a high school student, one that just graduated and one that is currently enrolled – there are an unbelievable amount of advocates at the school, and there are people that specialize in many different areas involving mental health and addiction,” he said. “I do believe as a community, and as parents, more specifically, we have to do a better job of being more inquisitive and getting that information and asking for that information.”

  Keefe said he is in favor of more resources at the school, but said there are many already in the schools that he believes are being underutilized.

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