BRATTLEBORO — Our Boys & Girls Club - part of a 160-year old federated organization that oversees 4,700 clubs across the country - provides safe, affordable, fun, out-of-school-time enrichment programs for Brattleboro-area kids.
Recently, our Club had the benefit of undergoing an external safety assessment as part of our dedication to continuous quality improvement. Our Club has a lot to be proud of when it comes to ensuring safety of the children and youth in our care. The board, staff, and volunteers are extensively background-checked, and they put significant resources into staff training, including First Aid/CPR, emergency action plans, trauma-informed approaches, and more.
Along with many of our youth-serving organizations in town, the Club is an evidence-based leader in child safety, youth engagement, and health and wellness, and it is a pillar in addiction prevention.
Sadly for our town, the safety assessor highlighted the illegal drug activity in the Brattleboro Transportation Center as a concern. She noted in her report that the Club should not park their vehicles there and that no staff should enter alone - and that, of course, no children should enter.
During the assessment, she shared that, though poverty, vagrancy, and addiction are “everywhere,” she has never witnessed a community willingly allow this behavior to occur within view of a Club.
This is significant considering that this assessor visits Clubs around the country, many in what could be considered some of the most marginalized urban and rural neighborhoods in our nation.
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We, the undersigned, support the work of the Boys & Girls Club and other youth serving organizations and urge the town to give the Brattleboro Police Department the support and resources to enforce the drug-free school zone law.
People dealing, acquiring, and acting under the influence of drugs can be unpredictable, reckless, disruptive, desperate, and violent.
The kids in our community are receiving the message that there is no consequence for breaking the law and that public drinking, drug use, and drug sales are acceptable and normal. It is disheartening for those who work with youth every day to not have a logical response as to why the law is not being enforced.
Our community should not subject children and youth to lawlessness and drug use. Our charge is to protect them from these behaviors, not to normalize them. Our town must do better on behalf of our children and enforce the drug-free school zone law in the Transportation Center in our valuable Youth Corridor on Flat Street.
We must preserve Flat Street as a gateway to Brattleboro and enjoy a properly maintained town-owned parking garage free of illegal activity.
In addition to this plea, we will let the Selectboard members, law enforcement, state representatives, state's attorney's office and the attorney general's office know that we support our police in enforcing the drug-free school zone law near the Boys & Girls Club and will encourage others to do the same.
Thank you on behalf of our community's working families and our community's kids, who deserve a safe, fun, and healthy childhood.