Sandy Hook Promise’s Know the Signs programs and bipartisan policies are rooted in student well-being and effective school safety methods. Which is why we celebrate recent developments like President Biden’s executive order to help stop gun violence. This commitment to student and school safety strengthens our mission: to educate and empower youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities.
So, what should students and the Trusted Adults in their lives be doing to support these efforts in local communities? The Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund hosted “The State of Student Safety” webinar. Altogether, it spotlighted our historical progress and where current school safety efforts stand. Significantly, it empowered focus on where the effort toward student and school safety is going with your incredible support.
Watch the State of Student Safety Webinar
Sandy Hook Promise Advocates for Student Safety
To better understand where we’re going, take a look at where we’ve been. Because of the support of our gun violence prevention and school safety advocates like you, change is happening.
- The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016: This bill overhauled America’s mental health system. It expands federal resources to improve mental health support. What’s more, it includes parity for insurance coverage of mental illness.
- The STOP School Violence Act: Passed in 2018, this Sandy Hook Promise-led bill funds school violence prevention. For this purpose, it includes training students how to recognize the warning signs of violence and get help.
- Project AWARE: Congress expanded this federal program by passing the STANDUP Act in March 2022. They built upon a law that was initially created in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. Further, schools can now apply for priority funding if they support or create school suicide prevention plans or training.
- Bipartisan Safer Communities Act: Congress passed this life-saving gun violence prevention legislation after the tragic shooting in Uvalde. It was one of the first comprehensive reforms to pass in nearly 30 years. It provides vital funding for extreme risk protection orders. Specifically, these orders allow law enforcement and families to keep firearms out of the hands of someone in crisis. In fact, Sandy Hook Promise played a critical role in helping to draft this bill and push it over the finish line. The act is coupled with funding to mental health programs and community-based violence interventions.
- Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Reauthorization Act: Congress passed this bill in December 2022. It provides funding for suicide prevention programs. As a result, it increased support educators and students, crisis services, and community partnerships.
Creating Bipartisan Solutions to Protect Students and School Safety
Efforts for the expansion of background checks, an assault weapons ban, and raising the age to purchase firearms will continue. Your support and advocacy is critical. In a divided Congress, we know these bills will be challenging to pass.
Additional focus will be on (but not limited to):
- Fiscal year 2024 STOP School Violence Act: Evidence-based programs and strategies for teachers need increased funding. Due to this support, students are learning how to recognize, respond quickly to, and prevent acts of violence.
- Creating opportunities for youth mental health services: in schools and continuing to build on the STANDUP Act.
- Advocacy work to separate active shooter simulations from drills. Markedly, active shooter simulations can emotionally hurt students and aren’t proven effective. These simulations can include shooting pellet guns at teachers and spreading fake blood to mimic the scene of a shooting. Overall, they are ineffective.
- Curbing gun manufacturers marketing to minors: President Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to write a report about firearm industry marketing practices, including the impact on minors. Its complexity will require bipartisan solutions.
5 Things You Can Do for Student and School Safety
Most importantly, empowering students and Trusted Adults is critical to this cultural change toward improved student and school safety. The most impactful steps forward will be when experienced youth have a consistent seat at the table.
Here’s what you can do:
- Support the STOP School Violence Act by submitting your personal story. Tell us why violence prevention programs matter to you. We’ll pass your messages on to Congress.
- Learn more about how to be a successful youth advocate with Sandy Hook Promise’s Voices for Change series.
- Volunteer to become a Promise Leader and help drive change.
- Join the more than 8.5 million people to Make the Promise. You’ll be supporting solutions to create safer homes, schools, and communities.
- Lastly, be ready for quick, urgent actions to demand action! We appreciate all that you do to help keep prioritize student and school safety.