From Gillian Huebner, Chair, MCCPTA sub-committee on school climate and safety
Sexual assault is a difficult topic. This information can be upsetting and may trigger reactions for survivors. Please know that help and support are available. Links to local and national resources that are free and provide 24-hour services at included at the end of this message.
As you may be aware, three juvenile males have been charged with second-degree rape in Damascus high school. The Montgomery County Police news report is accessible here.
As a reminder:
To report bullying, harassment, or intimidation, use this form.
To report suspected abuse or neglect, use this form.
Please ensure that you and yours are familiar with:
Also, please note this FREE resource from Montgomery County, available to all MCPS high schools:
COACHING BOYS INTO MEN equips coaches to teach athletes that violence never equals strength and provides strategies, scenarios and resources to athletes. This program is free and should be in every MCPS high school. To request more information, please email Smita Varia at firstname.lastname@example.org
The MCCPTA sub-committee on school climate and safety will be looking into climate and culture within MCPS athletic departments and sports teams. If anyone is interested in working on this with us, please write to me offline at email@example.com.
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline – 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) – is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in over 200 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.
Darkness to Light – 1-866-FOR-LIGHT (866-367-5444) – provides a toll-free number for individuals living in the United States who need information and resources about sexual abuse. Any individual, child or adult who needs information about sexual abuse can call the Helpline.
Chair, MCCPTA sub-committee on school climate and safety
Concerning the Damascus incident
From Lynne Harris, MCCPTA President
Children & Families
for Local PTAs
As an organization, MCCPTA's priority is to act thoughtfully and constructively on ALL issues at ALL times. In the wake of the sexual assault arrests of Damascus HS students we have already approached Dr. Zuckerman's office about working comprehensively with MCPS and the Family Justice Center to take important student-centered programs like "Coaching Boys Into Men" and "Athletes as Leaders" into ALL MCPS middle and high schools to help create a culture of respect, in which all students feel empowered to maximize and protect their own physical, emotional and sexual wellbeing.
MCCPTA has been partnering with the Family Justice Center for over a year to promote their Choose Respect work with MCPS students. Here's a link to the Choose Respect website:
And to the national Coaching Boys Into Men organization:
There's also a program for our young women athletes - Athletes as Leaders:
We are looking for the PTSAs at all our middle and high schools to partner with us, and encourage the athletic directors and coaches at their schools to take the training offered by these two national 'best-practice' programs, and implement the programs comprehensively in their athletic programs.
With regard to the unfolding situation at Damascus, MCCPTA will never take a 'torches and pitchforks' approach to any issue or problem -- especially one like this. The community and students are traumatized. The investigation is critical and ongoing. We don't know everything yet. I believe any poorly informed decision is not a good one. Our first concern has to be the students -- not demanding rolling heads.
Finally - I'd like to reiterate Dr. Smith's message -- if you have any knowledge or information about the events at Damascus HS, please contact Montgomery County's Special Victims Unit at 240-773-5400.
Lynne Harris - MCCPTA president.