Sandy Hook Promise applauds state efforts to increase student safety in Texas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania
Newtown, CT — As many state legislatures turn toward election season, four states have made significant progress toward protecting students. Texas redefined active shooter simulations while Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania focused on the Safety and Violence Education for Students Act (SAVE Students Act). The legislation would require that all middle and high school students in those states have access to evidence-based programming that teaches how to combat social isolation and build an inclusive community, identify the warning signs of potential violence and suicide, and how to get help.
In Massachusetts, the Senate passed S.3072, the SAVE Students Act, in the final hours of the session. They were motivated by the urgent need, as recent studies show more than 70% of teenagers are struggling with mental health concerns, while one in four have considered suicide. The suicide rates among young people in Massachusetts have skyrocketed by more than 64% in the past decade. The bill now heads to the House for next steps.
Louisiana went one step further, by passing the SAVE Students Act. The governor signed HB495 into law in June. The new law expands access to no-cost violence prevention training for students in grades six through 12. It also addresses social isolation, general violence prevention, suicide prevention, and how to know the signs and seek help for each.
The Pennsylvania legislature passed HB1642, committing funding for violence prevention training for students. This step further opens the door to passage of the SAVE Students Act, which has been introduced in both chambers.
“By focusing on this landmark legislation, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania are committing to protecting kids and creating safer schools,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “We are grateful to those legislators for their leadership and work to pass this life-saving legislation.”
This summer the Texas Education Agency (TEA) opened the Rulemaking process for SB168, a newly passed law allowing schools to conduct exercises mimicking real-life shootings. Because active shooter simulations can traumatize students, Sandy Hook Promise mobilized allies to call on TEA to make simulations optional for schools. With the support of parents, students, educators, mental health experts, and community members, this effort was a success.
In the wake of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, Sandy Hook Promise was invited to provide testimony in front of the Texas House and Senate Special Select Committees. The only national gun violence prevention organization invited to do so, Sandy Hook Promise used the opportunity to advocate for violence prevention education for students and gun safety measures, including solutions that specifically protect the rights of gun owners and simultaneously help stop gun violence.
The Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund (SHPAF) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization committed to protecting all children from gun violence in schools, homes, and communities. The SHP Action Fund advances a holistic policy platform that promotes gun safety, youth mental health, and violence prevention education. The organization works at the state and federal level to pass nonpartisan legislation through inclusive partnerships, diverse grassroots education, and community mobilization. It is part of Sandy Hook Promise, founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.