A program that helps 11,800 teens each year might be terminated by July of this year if funding is allowed to be slashed, and a local councilman says he’ll be fighting for its restoration.
Teen RAPP — Relationship Abuse Prevention Program — has been running in 62 host schools throughout New York City. The program provides preventative measures for teens facing bullying and dating or domestic violence, using prevention classes, intervention counseling, staff development and training and community outreach.
But, in cutting all of its $3 million in funding, Mayor Bloomberg’s new budget gives the axe to a program that advocates believe is proven to be effective.
“We see a direct correlation between RAPP and reducing abuse in schools,” said Caitlyn Brazill, a representative for the CAMBA, a nonprofit that helped create and oversee the program. “Cutting RAPP could lead to an increase of abuse in schools.”
It’s not the first time the program has faced budget cuts. Just last year the program was slashed, but managed to regain its funding after a fierce struggle pitting education and political advocates against the mayor’s office.
But the latest loss of funding could mean a decrease in peer mentors, according to CAMBA, which would mute the program’s success at a time in which bullying appears to otherwise be on the rise.
City Councilman Lew Fidler, who serves as chair of the Youth Services committee and has been a vocal advocate for anti-bullying measures, is blasting the proposed cuts, pointing out that early prevention is key in abuse and domestic violence cases.
“I’ve fought repeatedly to protect our City’s children and most vulnerable citizens,” said Fidler. “This is part of that fight. The school-based teen RAPP program, through counseling and support, teaches needed skills and promotes healthy relationships.”