LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Local proposes new school district policies

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Editor,

First, to the survivors : Thank you. Thank you for coming forward. Thank you for taking the steps to help protect future athletes and students. Thank you for your courage and determination. Thank you for making Miles City safer and stronger. Second, to the former students or athletes from CCDHS: You are not alone. There is support and help available.MilesCityAbuseVictims.com is confidential. Please seek help if you need it. Reach out to one another; don’t leave a single Cowboy or Cowgirl behind. Third, to our current school board and all of Miles City: We don’t have to wait for this lawsuit to play out in the court system to make real change to our school policies. Whether it’s authoring or co-sponsoring this legislation in 2019, I commit to the Miles City of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I fully support the following policies as recommended by the lawsuit: — Athletic trainers must possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a professional athletic training education program and pass a test administered by the Board of Certification. Sports physicals would have to be administered by a medical doctor. This tragedy might have been avoided if we started by demanding certified and licensed professionals in this role. ●— The district must annually “arrange and provide appropriate training for identifying and reporting instances of sexual, physical or psychological abuse or suspected abuse.” ●— The district must implement policies prohibiting leaving students alone with faculty members while “in a nude or partially clothed state” and requiring district employees to avoid being alone with any student outside school grounds or activities. ●— No staff offices at the school can have a view of students while showering or changing clothes. ●— The district must post signage in all locker rooms encouraging students to report abuse or suspected abuse to the principal’s office. As well as championing legislation that removes the statute of limitations for youth sexual assault crimes, both criminal and civil, and is applicable retroactively. This ensures that survivors can come forward and receive justice. I look forward to working with our local school board to ensure that additional protective policies are in place for all grade levels, not just high school students and athletics. Our school board needs everyone’s support, not just our elected officials. Show up, be present, and lend a hand to make these changes. Miles City has an opportunity to do better, to lead in student safety, and to support all survivors whether or not they have chosen to come forward. This is a difficult topic to talk about, but my household is having that conversation. Take the time to talk to your children about body autonomy, consent, and their right to privacy. Start that conversation today. Miles City is fortunate to have licensed, local counselors available. And there are books on consent and safety available at the public library to share with your family for all ages/developmental levels. My campaign and my family stand with the survivors: you were brave enough to speak out. Now we must be brave and take action.

Bert Pezzarossi Miles City, MT

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