Pennsylvania Lawmakers, Students, and Educators Call for More Violence Prevention Programs in Schools

Newtown, CT — State lawmakers, students, and educators participated in a virtual rally yesterday where they spoke in support of the SAVE Students Act and the importance of violence prevention programs in schools. 

The rally was organized by Sandy Hook Promise. Speakers included state Rep. Karen Boback and state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, William Aurandt, Assistant Principal at Westmont Hilltop Junior-Senior High School, and Isabelle Bonita, a student at Lower Merion High School.

“Students are at a pivotal point in our lives right now,” Bonita said during the rally. “It’s no secret this year has been one of pain, trauma, and monumental change. And we can’t deny that the youth, my friends, and your children have struggled. The pandemic has only exacerbated the mental health challenges we already face.”

Panelists noted that suicide is already the second leading cause of death for Pennsylvanians aged 10 to 24, and studies show that one in six children in the state has already contemplated suicide. 

“In most incidents of school violence, students show warning signs before harming themselves or others,” said Boback, who introduced the SAVE Students Act. “But unfortunately, youth and adults who see these signs don’t always know what they are. Violence education programs can give them the tools they need.”

The act was introduced into the House last month and would require that all students in grades 6 through 12 receive suicide and violence prevention training. Many of these trainings are available at no cost.

“Unlike the gun issue which we find a heavy lift, especially in a state like Pennsylvania, this should have broad support,” said state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, who plans to introduce similar legislation in the state Senate. “These are issues that everyone should agree we need to focus on.”

To date, more than 12 million people nationwide have participated in Sandy Hook Promise’s proven Know the Signs programs that focus on prevention to help end the epidemic of gun violence by training youth and adults how to identify at-risk behavior and intervene to get help before a tragedy can occur. Through these no-cost programs, Sandy Hook Promise has averted multiple school shooting plots, teen suicides, and countless other acts of violence.

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About the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund

Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization committed to protecting all children from gun violence in schools, homes, and communities. The SHP Action Fund champions 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

Media Contact: 

Dirk Perrefort | [email protected] | 203-470-0699