Sandy Hook Promise applauds passage of ‘Students Safe at School Act’
NEWTOWN, Conn. — Yesterday, the Minnesota Legislature passed the “Students Safe at School Act,” which requires active shooter drills, sometimes known as lockdown drills, to be accessible, developmentally- and age-appropriate, culturally aware, and trauma-informed. This conscientious approach centers the students’ experience of this common school safety practice, helping decrease the potential for harmful impact on students’ wellbeing. The bill heads to Gov. Tim Walz for his signature.
Minnesota requires schools to “include at least five school lockdown drills” to help prepare for crisis situations, such as school shootings. However, the current law is silent on how to conduct this drill without harming students’ mental health and wellness. That means that “active shooter” simulations, which attempt to mimic a school shooting and which have been proven to cause trauma, are allowed. The “Students Safe at School Act” will prohibit mandatory student participation in simulations and ensure lockdown drills guard against trauma and protect students’ mental health. Measures in the new law include:
- Making drills developmentally/age appropriate, culturally aware, trauma-informed, and accommodating for all students.
- Providing post-drill follow-up for students to process their feelings, including mental health services if needed.
- Announcing drills to students, in age-appropriate language, before they commence.
- Banning simulations during school hours.
- Providing evidence-based violence prevention training to 6th-12th grade students annually.
- Giving students a voice in violence prevention planning, including access to annual violence prevention training that teaches how to identify observable warning signs of someone at risk of harming self or others and how to get help.
- Requiring annual reviews of the efficacy and impacts of active shooter drills.
“By focusing on this landmark legislation, Minnesota legislators are committing to a student-centered approach to 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 these lawmakers for their thoughtful work to pass this life-saving legislation – and encourage more states to follow their lead.”
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.
Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579