Legislation Will Teach All 6-12th Graders How to Prevent Violence and Save Lives
Newtown, CT – Sandy Hook Promise applauds yesterday’s introduction of the Safety and Violence Education for Students Act (HB540) in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
The SAVE Students Act 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 the suicide rates have spiked more than 53% in Pennsylvania alone during 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 all Pennsylvania’s students by giving them the tools they need and empowering them to ‘say something.’”
The SAVE Students Act was introduced by Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming) and 10 bipartisan co-sponsors. The legislation would require that all Pennsylvania students, grades 6th – 12th, 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.
“As a former educator, I’m very concerned about the increase in the youth suicide rates and the violence that is ripping our communities apart,” said Rep. Boback. “House Bill 540 ensures all Pennsylvania students are able to learn and grow in environments that are inclusive, supportive, and free of violence. Evidence-based programs that help make this possible should be made available to all our schools at no cost.”
Training students to be “upstanders” in prevention rather than bystanders to violence has a positive ripple effect throughout the community beyond school grounds.
“Teaching kids what the warning signs of violence are and how to speak up to get help are crucial skills — not just in school but in life. This is how we can begin to make our communities safer, reduce gun violence, and reverse the alarming trends of youth suicide we’re seeing in our state,” said the former mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter. “I urge the House to pass this life-saving legislation.”
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 countless school shooting plots, teen suicides, and 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