Earlier this month, the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Committee cut the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) violence prevention program funding created under the STOP School Violence Act by $8 million. This cut comes in the wake of the highest year on record for school shootings and an increasing prevalence of mass shootings and youth suicides across the nation, making the need for violence prevention programs more critical than ever.
Sandy Hook Promise, the leading school violence prevention organization, issued the following statement in response:
“This funding is critical to protecting our children and we cannot afford to go backwards. Violence and suicides in our schools are preventable when we teach students and adults to ‘know the signs’ and get help to stop a tragedy. We urge Congress to reverse these short-sighted cuts to school violence prevention programs and pass the robust funding our schools need to save lives,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and the father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.
Congress passed the bipartisan STOP School Violence Act (H.R. 4909/S. 2495) in March 2018 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. The passage of STOP marked the largest authorized federal investment in school safety in history, authorizing a total of $1.075 billion dollars over eleven federal fiscal years. STOP makes grants available to state governments, local governments, and Tribes for evidence-based school violence prevention programming through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and school security infrastructure through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
Due to increased need and demand, Congress increased funding for STOP from $75 million in FY 2018 to $100 million in FY 2019, with $75 million dedicated to violence prevention programs under BJA. In FY 2020, the House passed an additional $25 million increase in STOP funding, allocating $93.75 million to these critical BJA programs.
The Senate CJS Committee FY2020 appropationation bill includes only $67 million for BJA violence prevention programs under the STOP Act, cutting existing funding by $8 million and representing a reduction of over $26 million from the House passed funding levels.
About Sandy Hook Promise: Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut 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. SHP’s mission is to prevent gun violence (and other forms of violence and victimization) BEFORE it can happen by educating and mobilizing youth and adults to identify, intervene, and get help for at-risk individuals. SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible program and policy solutions that address the “human side” of gun violence by preventing individuals from ever getting to the point of picking up a firearm to hurt themselves or others. Our words, actions, and impact nationwide are intended to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation. For more information, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org or call 203-304-9780.