The October Cop Shop topic is “It Can Happen to Anybody: Practical Information for EVERY Middle School Student about Healthy Relationships.”
“This month’s Cop Shop is specifically designed for middle school students and puts the focus on domestic violence awareness, particularly in regard to healthy relationships among adolescents,” Daignault said.
A future high school event is planned for November with details to follow, she said.
“Cop shops are informal, round table discussions between police officers and kids with the intent of building supportive relationships and a better understanding between parties.” said Daignault. “The topic of domestic violence, while often misunderstood as an adult-only issue, is one that affect teens in startling numbers.”
Recent national statistics show that one in five teens – age 11 to 14 – say their friends are victims of dating violence and nearly half who are in relationships know friends who are verbally abused, Daignault said. Two in five of the youngest teens, ages 11 and 12, report that their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships. These facts, in addition to the pervasive use of the technology, exacerbates the impact of unhealthy relationships with 24/7 access to the victim, she said.
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The Oct. 16 program will feature Officer Earl Middleton, a Vernon Police Officer, who brings 16 years of experience to his interactive presentation. His goal is to help kids to recognize and address unhealthy relationships both at home and within their friendships.
Middleton will be joined by several other Westport police officers, including Youth Detective Serenity Dobson, DARE Officer Ned Battling, and Detective Jillian Cabana to meet with kids in an informal environment and present useful information that every teen should know, Daignault said.
“Officer Middleton was the School Resource Officer (SRO) in Vernon from 2008-2012,” said Batlin. “He has spoken with over 5,000 students about healthy teen relationships throughout his career. His knowledge and approach to working with teens is legendary.”
“There will be plenty of time for informal discussion about anything a young person may want to ask of an officer,” Dobson said. “To date, we have had over 50 kids attend our initial Cop Shops last year and an enthusiastic group off-duty officers who enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the kids in a non-enforcement capacity.”
A pizza dinner will be provided free of charge. To pre-register, contact email@example.com or call 203-341-1165. Registration is not required but appreciated.
Attendees are invited to bring $5-$10 to support the Domestic Violence Task Force’s Oct. 18 butterfly release event to raise awareness.
A partnership of the Department of Human Services, the Westport Police Department and young people, The Westport Police-Youth Collaborative (WPYC) seeks to foster respect and understanding between cops and kids in town by creating opportunities for them to plan and implement programs which they believe will help foster communication and build trust with one another, said Daignault.
In addition to the regular Cop Shop series, WPYC will host a variety of other events to bring police and kids together. Future plans include: a high school cop shop on Nov. 13 and the second annual Dodge a CopDodgeball Tournament to benefit Toys for Tots on Nov. 15.
Consistent with the mission of the WPYC, police officers will join kids on their teams, in an effort to build stronger youth-adult partnerships, promote substance-free activities, and give back to the community.
For more information on the Westport Police-Youth Collaborative contact firstname.lastname@example.org