Newtown, CT – Sandy Hook Promise applauds the recent introduction of the Safety and Violence Education for Students Act in the Massachusetts State House and Senate.
The SAVE Students Act (SD 984 and HD 1513) is aimed at combating the crisis of social isolation, violence, bullying, and suicide that is devastating our nation’s students. With so many students facing an increase in depression and suicidal thoughts since the pandemic began, this legislation is more important than ever.
Recent studies show more than 70% of teenagers are struggling with mental health concerns, while one in four have considered suicide. And suicide rates among young people in Massachusetts have skyrocketed by more than 64 percent in the past decade.
“We know school violence is preventable when we teach youth and adults to ‘know the signs’ of violence and suicide and get help to stop a tragedy before it happens,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, and father of Daniel who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. “This legislation would protect Massachusetts’ students across the state, empowering youth to be upstanders and empowering them to help save lives.”
The SAVE Students Act was introduced by State Senator Barry Finegold of Andover and State Representative Natalie Higgins of Leominster this week in the Massachusetts Senate and House.
The legislation would require that all middle and high school students in the state have access to evidence-based programming that teaches how to combat social isolation and build an inclusive community, identify the signs and signals of interpersonal violence and suicide, and how to reach out for help. It would also establish a statewide anonymous reporting system to collect tips and information about potential threats to the safety of Massachusetts students.
“The SAVE Students Act is an increasingly necessary support for students who have experienced unprecedented levels of isolation and mental health challenges during the pandemic. With rising rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations among young people, this bill will equip school districts with the resources to improve mental health literacy in schools. We need to make sure that when students return to school, they are safer than ever before,” said Massachusetts Senator Barry R. Finegold.
“Students play a vital role in ending the stigma around mental health and can have the greatest impact in changing school culture. The SAVE Students Act will help Massachusetts students build a stronger community, identify the signs and signals of violence and suicide, and support each other in creating safer schools. These tools have become even more necessary, as our students, families, and School Districts continue to struggle with the challenges of remote and hybrid learning,” said State Rep. Natalie Higgins of Leominster, who is sponsoring the bill in the House.
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.
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.
Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646.761.5579