Wicomico County Youth Safety Task Force Announces Progress - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Youth Safety Task Force Announces Progress

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(Photo credit: MGN Online) (Photo credit: MGN Online)

SALISBURY, Md.- Members of the Wicomico County Youth Safety Task Force say they're making progress toward addressing safety concerns in county schools.

The task force is made up of Wicomico County Public Schools, the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office, the Wicomico County State's Attorney's Office and the Department of Juvenile Services. Members of the task force say they have met four times since announcing the group's formation in November. It comes after several reports of fights and violence in schools.

They say the group's goal is to identify and address systematic issues among the community's youth. It also aims to grow public confidence through the collaboration of top policy and decision makers among agencies that work closely with the county's younger citizens.

In a statement, the task force says it's scope "is narrowly tailored to address those issues which create systemic problems that can only be remedied through the coordinated and collaborative efforts of its members. Through this forum, members will institute problem-solving solutions quickly, effectively and with the ultimate goal of protecting the safety, rights and academic experience of the entire student body and youth of Wicomico County."

Over the course of the last few meetings, the task force says it has come up with some ideas on how to address safety concerns. They say "considerable" progress is being made, with more to come.

Below is a list of what the task force says it has come up with so far.

• Additional training for school resource officers with a specific focus on investigative techniques unique to school-related incidents.
• Increased presence of the Department of Juvenile Services in schools for proactive prevention and intervention with youth safety concerns.
• Ongoing training and communication with school administrators on school safety-related matters including structural changes to support positive school climate, intervention supports for identified students, effective administration of the Maryland Guidelines for Student Discipline, understanding the proactive and preventative nature of the increased presence of the Department of Juvenile Services in schools, and working with law enforcement on effective investigative techniques unique to school-related incidents.
• The planned designation of a detective within the Criminal Investigation Division of the Sheriff’s Office as liaison for school-based investigations, enabling SROs to continue to serve in a proactive capacity in schools.
• Recognition of the need for greater parent engagement, accountability and collaboration with agencies in dealing with youth-related matters.
• A newly appointed juvenile prosecutor in the Office of the State’s Attorney with unique experience and expertise in working with youth, to serve as the direct point of contact for SROs as they deal with students, parents and school staff on school safety incidents.
• Full-time hall patrol positions added in secondary schools, providing a greater adult presence to ensure students are in class when they should be and are fully supervised when in the hallways.
• Reinforcement by school staff of appropriate and allowable use of cellphones in school, where they may enhance instruction in the classroom, and responsible use of social media.
• Greater network of student support in our schools through additional social workers, school psychologists and guidance counselors.
• Exploration of effective education options for 18-year-old students not thriving in the traditional high school setting, to keep them on track to complete their studies and earn a diploma.
• Expanded availability of alternative education pathways for high school students both inside and outside the school system, to prepare youth for college and career.

 

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