Confidential advocate provides support for students


Colin Elliott

Lincoln’s new Confidential Advocate, Samantha Cohen

Although all PPS staff are trained in reporting and helping students in areas of abuse identification and prevention, some students find themselves needing to reach out to someone outside of  PPS.

In order to allow students who want to discuss some aspect of their relationship with a trusted adult, without having that adult be a mandatory reporter, PPS has “a collaborative project between the Oregon School-Based Health Alliance (OSBHA), Raphael House of Portland, VOA Home Free, and Multnomah County Health Department Student Health Centers,” says OSBHA Program Manager Ashley McAllister.

The program was first available to Cleveland and Franklin High School students, but a partnership between Raphael House, an organization that is dedicated to preventing and ending domestic violence, helped introduce the program to Lincoln’s administration.

Lincoln’s new Confidential Advocate, Samantha Cohen, explained that she is here “for anyone that is experiencing dating violence, sexual assault, or anyone who is concerned about their relationship.” Cohen is employed at the Raphael House of Portland as a Teen Advocate and a Prevention Education Specialist. She also educates “schools, community centers, and businesses on topics surrounding consent,” says Cohen.

With a degree in Family and Human Services from the University of Oregon and five years of experience working with other confidential advocates and survivors across Portland, Cohen has realized “that young people, especially students didn’t know what resources were available and accessible without risking having a report made.”

According to Portland Public Schools’ website, “all district employees and teacher candidates must be trained annually in child abuse identification, prevention, and reporting procedures, along with identification, prevention, and reporting of staff-to-student sexual conduct.”

Because confidential advocates provided by the Raphael House of Portland are not PPS district employees, they have “the privilege to keep conversations fully confidential and provide the support that survivors are seeking on their own terms,” says Cohen.

Samantha Cohen’s room in Lincoln’s counseling office is open to anyone.

“[Our conversation] doesn’t even have to be about heavy stuff, this is a space where anyone can come in, hang out, and know that it’s a safe space,” says Cohen.

Ms. Cohen will be stationed in the counseling office every Friday from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm