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|March 9, 2010
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Brockton District Court Probation Collaborates with Local Officials to Educate
Youth and Parents on the Risks of Drug Use
In response to increased drug overdoses among young people in the City of Brockton, the Brockton District Court Probation Department is collaborating with Brockton Mayor Linda M. Balzotti ’s Office, the Mayor’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Coalition, High Point Treatment Center and Brockton Public Schools to present a comprehensive Drug Forum to educate teenagers and their parents about the warning signs and risk factors of drug use and addiction.
The Drug Forum, scheduled to take place at Brockton High School on Monday, March 29th, will feature a roundtable discussion as well as health and social service providers who will be on hand to provide information on drug treatment and community resources. The event will be held in the school’s Green Cafeteria from 5:30 to 8 p.m. This is the second community outreach program the Brockton District Court Probation Department has helped organize, according to Michael Branch, acting Chief Probation Officer. At the beginning of the year, the Brockton Probation Department teamed with Federal Probation to host a Gang summit which targeted more than 30 high-risk offenders with known gang affiliations. The purpose of the summit was to discourage gang violence following several violent incidents in the city such as a shooting of a young man at a city shopping mall and another blatant shooting in a local high school gymnasium.
Brockton Probation Officer Audrey Banks, one of the organizers of the Drug Forum said, “We are collaboratively coming together for a common purpose. Drug use is a real issue in every community and specifically in Brockton. We want to look at prevention. For those who are abusing substances, we are trying to prevent a long-standing problem and dreams deferred.”
Banks, who introduced the court’s Alcohol Awareness Program for minors in possession of alcohol, said a representative from the court will also be on hand to provide information on civil commitment (section 35), the court-ordered placement of an individual, suffering with addiction, into a treatment facility.
Education and awareness is the underlying theme for the upcoming forum.
Koren Cappiello, Director of Community and Social Services in Mayor Balzotti’s Office, said of the forum, “There have been a number of overdoses. Because the schools have first access to young people, we are hoping that the parents and older teens who attend this forum will gain awareness about this issue. Many of the parents don’t know the symptoms.”
Hillary Dubois, a coordinator for the Brockton Mayor’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Coalition, said the city began noticing the trend of increased overdoses over the past two years.
“Opiate use is a huge concern. It is the goal of the coalition to bring education and awareness to the Brockton community through this large forum. Young people and their families can come to this event and listen to professionals talk about this issue as well as get information about resources in the community,” Dubois said.
Brockton High School Principal Susan Szachowicz said a forum like this is important for all involved.
“What this does is educate parents and provide resources to kids. We are all different groups who work with kids in different ways. We are all invested in the kids, and this connects the home, where it all begins, to the schools. If we are all on the same page and there is awareness, there is hope. This way, if a problem does crop up, we are able to intervene early,” Dr. Szachowicz said.