Fossella hosts roundtable discussion on Staten Island youth violence | #schoolsaftey

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Some solutions to come out of Borough President Vito Fossella’s Borough Hall roundtable discussion with elected and community officials on youth violence Monday included mentoring children on the intermediate and elementary school levels and possibly keeping certain school buildings open on 24/7.

“Many of us are concerned about the dramatic rise in certain instances of youth crime in Staten Island, and I think we have a responsibility to address it and figure out a way to solve it,” Fossella told the Advance/ “Today was about bringing together people who are on the front lines every day, who are committed to improve the quality of life and provide a great education to our young people.”

Fossella pointed out that educators are seeing several “heavy hitters” — students who commit a disproportionate amount of harm to other young people and to other students.

“The good news is that, probably 99% of the kids on Staten Island, that’s about 16,000-plus in the schools, are great kids that just want a safe and secure environment,’’ Fossella said. “They deserve it and their parents deserve it.”

Fossella said that one solution was to interact more closely with the borough’s intermediate schools and elementary schools before children with disciplinary issues reach high school.

“I think that was probably the most glaring observation,” Fossella said. “We should focus More on the younger kids because sometimes you get to high school, the damage is done and the child is too far gone.”

Assemblyman Sam Pirozzolo (R-Mid Island) said he believes this is not a situation that can be solved by legislation, and went on to mention the prospect of keeping certain schools open for 24 hours so that children have a place to go that’s an alternative to hanging out on the streets.

“We’re in a technological society that’s 24/7,’’ Pirozzolo said. “I think that our schools should be 24/7. That doesn’t mean our teachers have to be 24/7. We can work in different shifts, but I would like to see alternative programs where a school is open seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. These buildings are paying rent 24 hours a day. They can be working far beyond the capacity of what they’re doing.”

Fossella said that, while another roundtable discussion had yet to be scheduled, he’d be open to hosting similar meetings on a more regular basis.

Today’s meeting comes in the wake of four children under the age of 18 dying by homicide so far this year, which is more than any year dating back to at least to 2004, when the Advance/ began maintaining such records. There have been arrests in three of those cases. All of the suspects taken into custody were also juveniles.

Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella met with elected officials and community leaders to discuss solutions to the ongoing problem of youth-related violence in the borough. (Staten Island Borough Hall/Pete Trivelas)

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