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School children and domestic violence: Syracuse superintendent hopes campaign raises awareness

Ellen Abbott
Jaime Alicea, superintendent of the Syracuse City School District (SCSD).

Domestic violence impacts a lot of children in the Syracuse City School District, according to Superintendent Jaime Alicea. He’s hoping that as honorary chair of the Vera House 2018 White Ribbon Campaign he can raise more awareness of the issue.

Alicea says there are signs at school that a child is living with domestic violence and abuse.

"We see that the kids are not performing academically at a level that they should be,” he says. “We know they have trouble concentrating at school and dealing with their peers and their teachers.”

Alicea has asked administrators and staff to get involved in the campaign, to raise awareness and speak against domestic violence. The school’s role when domestic violence is suspected is to connect children and families with community resources that deal with this kind of thing, like Vera House. But first, the superintendent says the most important thing is to listen to the children.

"If they feel they are coming to you with a concern and you just brush them off, no, you have to take time and listen to them and find out whether an allegation has merit and get them engaged with agencies in the community that will provide that extra support," Alicea says.

The month-long White Ribbon Campaign raises funds for Vera House education and awareness programs.

“We have a lot of kids, a lot of families, that are dealing with domestic violence,” Alicea says. “So we want to be proactive, to speak against it, so we can reduce the incidence of domestic violence in our community.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.