Three Keys to School Safety and Gun Violence Prevention
Increase access to mental health services.
We need to dramatically expand our focus on mental health. Proper diagnosis can and often starts in our schools, yet there is a huge shortage of school counselors, school social workers and school psychologists in public education.
We need more school-based health centers that diagnose and treat mental health disorders. It’s also important that access to mental health services is are a mandatory part of all healthcare coverage. Legislators must close loopholes that allow state and local governments to opt out of providing mental healthcare as stipulated by the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996.
Provide a safe and secure learning environment for all students.
Our school facilities must be equipped with an updated structural and technological support foundation to help protect students and educators from danger. We must invest in school personnel to provide diagnostic and counseling services, such as counselors, school psychologists and nurses.
Our educators need professional development about bullying, mental and behavioral health, cultural competence, appropriate classroom management, and safety. And students need more exposure to peer mediation programs, diversity and inclusion curriculum or programs, and character education in order to minimize conflict and harmful behavior. And we MUST redouble our efforts to address the bullying epidemic in our schools.
We believe if we put a stop to bullying before it starts, fewer teens and young adults will become desperate and resort to violence. NEA has established the “Bully Free: It Starts with Me” and anti-bullying program which encourages educators to recognize bullying behavior and take action to stop it. www.bullyfree.org
Take meaningful action on gun violence prevention.
Our kids and communities deserve common sense laws that protect our safety—and that starts with ensuring that guns don’t end up in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. We believe that everyone who wants to purchase a firearm should go through a background check, regardless of where they are purchasing the weapon.
We believe assault weapons and high capacity magazines are weapons of war that belong only in the hands of our military and law enforcement officers. We believe in “amnesty days” to allow Americans to turn these types of weapons of war in to law enforcement –no questions asked. Finally, we believe that gun trafficking ought to be a federal crime with harsh penalties.