Coaching youth sports, and mentorship in the foster care system and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America organization have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Today, young people and at-risk children face unique challenges including social media, bullying, mental health and more. We owe it to our children and collective future to lean in and find solutions.
As Congressman I will:
Support youth mental health. Long Island and regions across the nation are facing an increased demand for youth mental health services in the wake of rising depression and suicide rates. Some families have experienced 6-month wait times to see a provider because demand is outpacing supply: only 4% of clinical psychologists in the United States specialize in children or adolescents, according to the American Psychological Association. A number of Long Island non-profits have stepped up to fill the gap but we need to do more and as Congressman I will support increased federal funding, grants and resources to alleviate the shortage.
Stand up to end bullying. Every day, our youth face fears of physical and psychological bullying in-person and online based on their physical looks, intelligence, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more. This has created a cascading effect seen in aggressive behavior by children who were once victims of bullies. I will lead with compassion and empathy in the anti-bullying movement to help break the cycle of violence.
Life skills development. One of the best ways to support at-risk youth is to prepare them to be successful in the real-world by making high school education more relevant. When at-risk youth leave school without workforce skills, they become hopeless and make bad decisions. We must create viable alternatives that work for different paths in life. This includes ensuring high school students, who intend to seek employment immediately after graduation, acquire lifelong skills and credentials that prepare them to enter the workforce in the manufacturing, technology, service, and construction industries, without incurring massive college debt.
Defend female education worldwide. We have a moral obligation to support the fight for girls' education around the world. Education strengthens communities and economies and reduces systemic inequities. America’s foreign policy agenda should promote freedom to pursue education no matter an individual's gender.