August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day

Today marks International Overdose Awareness Day – let us take this opportunity to bring awareness to the staggering amount of drug overdose deaths in the United States and how we can prevent this epidemic from soaring even higher.

https://www.overdoseday.com/

Dr. Gail Barouh hosts Girls Day Event

On Thursday June 8th, Dr. Gail Barouh, CEO of the Long Island Network of Community Services, Inc., hosted a group of young women for an event of empowerment and education. Over a dozen motivated, ambitious girls attended the event where an accomplished panel of female executives, directors and management, discussed the challenges, as well as the advantages, of being a woman in a position of leadership.

Harriet Gourdine-Adams, Chief Officer for Care Coordination at LIAAC, explained that this event originated during a discussion of the unique challenges female executives face and the desire to share the trials and the triumphs of being a female executive with the next generation of young ladies. She believes that it is very motivating for a young girl to see a woman in a position of power. Dr. Barouh stated that she wanted to introduce the girls to “accomplished women who came to do this work from different walks of life, at different times in their life” to show that there is no single path to success. She explained to the girls that this was a unique experience for them, as at most companies you would not see a panel of its top leaders being female.

The girls participated in a question and answer session, where they discussed skills necessary to be a good leader as well as how to balance work with personal life. Throughout the discussion, Dr. Gail Barouh offered the girls her insight on what it means to run a company, make hard decisions, and tackle obstacles. She talked about being adaptable, along with the stresses of having to make decisions that some people may not always agree with. Dr. Barouh told the girls “it is harder to be a woman in business, and in life” but that with confidence, open-mindedness, and hard work anything is possible.

The young ladies in attendance shared their dreams for the future. Among them were wishes to be a news reporter, an animator, a doctor, lawyer, marine biologist and fashion designer. Though each child has a unique future and path, they gained from this lesson the notions of female empowerment, being supportive of one another, and to always work hard and dream big.

The Digital Age of Sexting

We live in a day and age where information is at your fingertips. Teens and young adults can access the internet through PCs, laptops, tablets and even cell phones. Through these devices, pictures and information can be shared with anyone at any time. Nearly one out of every two 10-13 year olds and 83% of 13-18 year olds own a cell phone. The cell phone has been a tool utilized by parents to keep in contact with their children while they are not home. As technology has become more advanced, the cell phone has become a tool for teens and young adults to keep in contact with one another through text messaging and the usage of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The average teen generates 50-70 text messages a day or about 18,000 messages a year. About 27% of teens who own a cell phone use it to access the internet.

While this does not look like a big deal, the type of information being shared over these text messages and social media sites is. Over the years, there has been a rise in the amount of cyberbullying taking place over electronic devices among teens and young adults, but a new frontier has come along that parents and teens should be made aware of: Sexting. Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, between cell phones and on social media sites like Facebook and AOL Instant Messenger. About 20% of teens between the ages 13-19 have posted or sent nude/semi-nude photos of themselves. Teens send sexually suggestive content to be fun and flirtatious, to be sent as a “sexy present” or a “joke”, but what teens do not realize is that these messages can be damaging to any of the parties involved in the act.

Sending sexually explicit pictures and messages to someone can lead to several different outcomes such as; the messages or pictures that were sent can be shared with others who are not meant to see them; the pictures or messages can be posted on social media blogs and sites for an entire audience to see. States are being forced to apply adult laws to teens for sexting and if the person who receives these messages/pictures shares them with others, this person can face criminal charges for child pornography and have to register as a sex offender.

The reason for the growing concern about Sexting is due to the pitfalls and misconceptions that surround it. A misconception that is common among teens and young adults is that what they send will remain private but about 40% of teens and young adults say they have had sexually suggestive messages shown to them. There is also a misconception that any sexually explicit messages, posting or pictures will go away once deleted, but what teens do not realize is, even when you do hit the delete button, it can still be accessible in cyberspace. One of the reasons why teens send these sexually suggestive messages or images out is to impress a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, but sending these messages can have legal consequences such as sex offender charges or jail time.

There are ways to prevent teens and young adults from sexting and suffering the consequences that come from this act. Parents can talk with their children about sexting and the legal consequences that can come from it; teach your child that just because you deleted a photo, does not mean it is gone forever; monitor the text messages being sent and the social media sites your children are on; and talk with your cell phone provider about plans that can eliminate the type of texts your child can receive and the amount of access your child can have on their phone to the internet.

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Marcelo Lucero Remembering 9 years later

November 8, 2017 will mark the ninth anniversary of the tragic death of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who was racially targeted by a group of seven boys and stabbed to death on a Patchogue street. His murder shocked Long Islanders, attracted national press coverage and refocused community attention on the horror and tragedy of hate crimes. It highlighted, like few events before, the need for policy reform and radical environmental/cultural change.

An investigation that followed the murder revealed that the Suffolk County Police Department had failed to fully investigate previous attacks by teens targeting Latino immigrants in the town of Patchogue. A pattern of real
anti-immigrant discrimination and intimidation was missed.

But discrimination in the town of Patchogue was only part of the issue. It was clear that Suffolk County, as a whole, had serious discrimination problems.
During the past few decades, the County has experienced a large influx of undocumented Latino immigrants. A number of locals have responded with violence and hostility.

Nine years ago, just before Marcelo Lucero’s murder, the climate for Latino immigrants in a number of Suffolk County neighborhoods was tense, at best, and often dangerously hostile. Many in the Latino community reported that police turned a blind eye to violence or persuaded victims not to press charges. This was especially the case when adolescents were the ones perpetrating the hate-related violence.

More than nine years have passed since the death of Marcelo Lucero. It’s important to examine how the community has responded and what has changed.
There have been a number of positive changes since 2008:

1. Suffolk County Police

The Suffolk County Police Department made some changes immediately after Marcelo Lucero’s death and committed itself to additional changes in a December 2013 agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.

Some of the key requirements of the 2013 agreement are as follows:

  • All complaints of discriminatory policing must be forwarded to the Department’s Internal Affairs Office.
    A full investigation must be initiated within 48 hours of the reported incident.
  • All reports alleging discrimination must be reported to the Justice Department every six months, along with self-assessments. Police officers must provide annual reports, accompanied by an analysis of traffic stops and hate crime trends. The Justice Department will have full, unrestricted access to the county staff, facilities and documents.
  • All police officers must participate in periodic trainings which focus on cultural sensitivity, hate crimes, and best practices for bias free policing.
  • All information/complaint forms must be available in multiple languages, including Spanish. In addition, bilingual phone operators must be available.
  • Each police precinct must have a bilingual community liaison. Outreach to the Latino community by high ranking officers must be improved.

2. The Federal Government

  • At least once a year, the Federal Government will monitor SCPD compliance with hate/bias crime investigations.

3. The Patchogue/Medford Community

  • In the aftermath of the murder, local religious congregations joined forces to address the fear and anxiety in the community.
  • Mayor Paul Pontieri met immediately with all segments of the community to try to heal wounds, assure public safety and chart a path forward.
  • The Mayor provided safe forums for members of the Latino community to express their fears and concerns.
  • The Mayor contacted BiasHELP to facilitate community workshops aimed at reducing and healing tensions and community divisions.

4. BiasHELP (In 2013)

  • Created the A VOICE Project (Against Violence In Communities Everywhere)
  • Created and developed the A VOICE coalition involving community leaders, clergy, school administrators, community members, students, parents and businesses, etc.
  • Hosted community events
  • Facilitated workshops in the community with schools, community based organizations, religious congregations, medical facilities, etc.
  • Facilitated Family Voices, providing a safe environment where families could support each other and heal
  • Introduced the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program to the Patchogue/Medford School District
  • Participated in community events, i.e. Live After Five and Play for Peace
  • The Knapp Swezey Foundation, which supported all of the above initiatives with a generous multiyear grant, joined BiasHELP and the whole community of Patchogue/Medford in fostering a vision of a revitalized, diverse community

5. Lucero de America Foundation

  • Community members, businesses, professionals, etc. established a foundation to assist Latinos to get involved in community activities through educational workshops

6. PBS

  • Not In My Town – Light in the Darkness, a documentary produced by The Working Group