Making Schools Safe Again with New Legislation Across the Country

It’s a sad state of affairs in the United States when we see flags being flown half-staff and the most likely explanation is another school shooting. Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook are schools that will unfortunately live in infamy, not for their academic success, but for the acts of violence that took place there.

That being said, it’s no surprise that parents, community members, and students themselves are all pushing for action to be taken to make schools safe again. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the 2018 legislative session saw 43 states propose 392 bills and resolutions related to school safety, 87 of which were enacted or adopted. These bills approach the issue from a variety of angles, from adopting strategies and technology to combat active shooter situations, to preventing these safety issues before they even start.

The Maryland Safe to Learn Act (SB 1265)— School Resource Officers

“The bill requires public high schools to have either a school resource officer or plans for adequate law enforcement coverage by the upcoming school year. Public middle and elementary schools will need to have either a school resource officer or plans for adequate law enforcement coverage in place prior to the 2019-2020 school year.”

Female student walking into school with her dad

“A school resource officer is defined as (1) a law enforcement officer assigned to a school in accordance with a memorandum of understanding between a local law enforcement agency and a local school system or (2) a Baltimore City School Police Officer.”

Florida (SB 7026)—Threat Assessment Teams

“The bill improves school safety through establish(ing) the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to investigate system failures in the Parkland school shooting and prior mass violence incidents, and develop recommendations for system improvements. An initial report from the commission is due to the Governor and the Legislature by January 1, 2019; and the commission is scheduled to repeal on July 1, 2023.”

Illinois (HB 4658 and 4657)—Mental Health Awareness and Support

“Mental illness is a national public health concern for the nation's youth. McHenry County schools are working in partnership with the McHenry County Mental Health Board to deliver Youth Mental Health First Aid Training (YMHFA) to address the increased number of students with social-emotional issues and psychiatric disorders.”

“(House Bill 4658) which went into effect in January 2019 mandates that school boards adopt and implement policies to recognize and address mental health issues.”

Montana (SB 92)—Funding for Safety Concerns

“Senate Bill 92 takes an expansive view on the topic, citing concepts from active shooter training to restorative justice, a disciplinary approach that shifts from punitive measures toward helping students reflect on their behavior and its consequences. The bill does not define all school safety uses, leaving it open to a school's interpretation.”

“Schools would be able to use money from an automatic levy established in 2017 for building maintenance for anything under the umbrella of school safety.”

Indiana (HB 1225)—Funding for Emergency Alert Systems

“The Indiana House unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that could provide a way for Indiana schools to get state-of-the-art technology to protect students during emergency situations… Schools could apply for grants from the Indiana Secured School Safety Grant Fund to install emergency alert systems (active event warning systems).”

Using Every Possible Resource to Keep Students Safe

Right now, school safety is everyone’s number one concern. There are so many options available to protect students in the event of an emergency, from preventative mental health awareness and care, to school alert systems like Badge Messenger®. With the help of initiatives like the ones listed above, schools can return to being a place where every student feels safe and supported.

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