Cera urges pilot project for students

COLUMBUS – State Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, has called for state funding for a pilot project for school-based services that will address the need for teaching students about sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior and the consequences with regard to social media, assault and abuse.

Cera has been working on an amendment for the upcoming budget bill that will earmark state dollars for local county mental health boards for such educational services.

Cera said his budget amendment would provide funding for programs to educate students on what constitutes rape and sexual assault and the varying degrees of penalties for carrying out such horrendous acts.

Each recipient of the funding would institute a program at local schools that would provide insight and education on the use of social media and how it can affect others and create victims.

He said he hopes the program would establish how threats and harassing behavior through the media has consequences.

“I feel the state can do more to provide our schools and communities with the tools that can educate and counsel our youth on the basic premise of ‘treat others as you want to be treated.’ By giving our youth a foundation of knowledge regarding sexual assault and social media we can hopefully begin to limit future abuse from happening,” said Cera.

Cera added the allocation will provide $300,000 to the Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board for such services in Jefferson County schools.

The Belmont County Mental Health and Recovery Board would receive $300,000 for services in Belmont County and $300,000 for services in Monroe County, with those programs to be provided by Student Services of Bellaire.

“Over the past few weeks, I have held several conversations with the directors of local mental health and recovery boards and student services. I know the great work they do and I know how this additional funding can build upon the services they already provide,” added Cera.

The amendment will be offered in the upcoming state’s biennial budget bill.

Cera said he is hoping the request will receive bi-partisan support.