Bronx Youth Forum Explores How Bullying and Drugs Impact School Life

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On May 30, a group of nearly 200 youth ages 12 to 18 from The Children’s Aid Society’s adolescent programs participated in the annual “Youth Speak Out On Education.”  

This half-day forum featured young people from across the Bronx and Manhattan discussing the impact of drugs and violence on student graduation success.

The event featured student presentations and peer-led discussions with a ground-eye view of schools, communities, home and shelter life, and what the Department of Education, politicians, community-based organizations and parents can do to help students continue their education and development, free from the victimization and violence that impact their future success.

After careful research leading up to the forum, students shared their findings and proposed solutions that policymakers and education leaders can implement at schools and at the community level to decrease the dropout rate and truancy, and to increase school attendance and completion.

Students from Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School surveyed 200 of their peers about bullying. Presenters showed that bullying is underreported because bullied students feel embarrassment and fear, and do not want to look weak to their peers and teachers. Another group tackled drug use and violence in the home, noting that children of parents who abuse drugs are three times more likely to be victims of abuse.

A trio of Milbank after-school participants called for the smoking age to be raised from 18 to 21, while Hope Leadership Academy students presented an exhaustive look at the dangers of cigarettes and marijuana.  

Throughout the event, video projects, live skits and interactive Q&A sessions were used to engage audience members, who were enthusiastic participants throughout the morning.

On hand to thank and encourage the students were two Department of Education (DOE) officials, Elayna Konstan, who is chief executive officer of the Office of School Youth Development, and Susana Vilardell, the director of students for the DOE’s Students in Temporary Housing program.

Click here to view pictures from the forum.