Desk of DeRiggi-Whiton: Working to better protect our youths

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As parents, we naturally want to do everything we can to ensure our children are living safe, happy and living positive, productive lives.

One of my greatest privileges as Legislator for the 11th District of Nassau County is to propose and/or approve legislature that helps achieve these goals.

As you may be aware, the full legislature recently unanimously approved a resolution submitted by Legislator Josh Lafazan that establishes a website dedicated exclusively to anti-bullying.

Our county executive signed the bill into law and the site will be ready before the school year starts in September.

Virtually all school districts in the County follow the Dignity For All Students Act.

Enacted by New York State in 2012, the act requires schools to ensure anti-bullying tactics are incorporated into the schools’ codes of contact and other anti-bullying measures.

Yet parents whose children are being bullied aren’t always clear about the schools’ processes, including whom to contact for example. This new dedicated website will remedy that problem as well as provide a great deal of related information.

The effects of bullying are very painful for children. This is a huge problem on its own, but researchers have found teens that have been bullied may be more likely than others to seek temporary solace to their emotional pain in drugs.

My fellow legislators and I host Narcan education and training sessions that, not only supply citizens with opioid overdose reversal kits, but educate us on the reasons why people turn to highly addictive opioid painkillers or heroin.

Also, earlier this year, the county Legislature unanimously approved a bill to ban sales of e-cigarettes, cigarettes and other tobacco products to anyone under 21 years of age.

Again, while this is not a cure-all for bullying or the opioid epidemic, studies have shown that nicotine addiction can lead to drug use beyond the fact that smoking is unhealthy in general.

Whether or not you know or feel your child is being bullied, I encourage you to visit the County’s dedicated anti-bullying website (nassaustopbullying.org).

I also urge you to sign up for a Narcan education and training session. No family is invulnerable to the possibility of opioid addiction. It can start as innocently as taking painkillers after surgery or a sports injury.

Visit nassaucountyny.gov to learn more about opioids and related services. Note that the Legislature recently approved development of a smartphone app to provide fast access to substance abuse resources.

If you have any questions or comments on these or any other topic, please contact my office at 516-571-6211 or dderiggiwhitton@nassaucountyny.gov.

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