FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sandy Hook Promise Applauds Introduction of
SAVE Students Act in Massachusetts
Newtown, CT – January 22, 2019 – Today, Sandy Hook Promise applauded the introduction of the Safety and Violence Education for Students (SAVE Students) Act in the Massachusetts State House and Senate. This new legislation in Massachusetts is aimed at combating the crisis of violence, bullying, and suicide that is devastating our nation’s schools. If passed, this bill would set a new national standard for statewide school safety programming.
In response to the introduction of this legislation, Sandy Hook Promise released the following statement: “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 and create a national model for prevention that empowers our youth to help save lives.”
The SAVE Students Act was introduced by State Senator Barry Finegold of Andover and State Representative Natalie Higgins of Leominster last 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 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.
Additionally, the SAVE Students Act would ensure that all Massachusetts schools have a designated school threat assessment team that is trained on how to identify and intervene when threats of violence are made and how to get students help before a crisis. The establishment of school threat assessment teams was a leading recommendation from mental health and safety experts following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
“All students should be able to learn and grow in environments that are inclusive, supportive, and free of violence,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “My office is honored to be partnering with Sandy Hook Promise to implement a $1 million grant to expand school-based violence prevention programs, mental health training, and suicide prevention to nearly 140,000 students across Massachusetts. There is nothing more important than protecting the safety and wellness of our young people, and this bill is an important step forward.”
“What happened in Sandy Hook and far too many times since can never happen again. This legislation is a pro-active approach to help kids before they do harm to themselves or to others,” said Massachusetts Senator Barry R. Finegold.
“Students play an integral role in ending stigma around mental health and can have the most impact in changing school culture. I am excited to work with Sandy Hook Promise on the SAVE Students Act to help Massachusetts students build stronger community, identify the signs and signals of violence and suicide, and support each other in creating safer schools,” said State Rep. Natalie Higgins of Leominster, who is sponsoring the bill in the House.
To date, more than 5.5 million people nationwide have been trained 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 Sandy Hook Promise: Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. We are led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and 6 educators. Sandy Hook Promise is focused on preventing gun violence (and all violence) BEFORE it can happen by educating and mobilizing parents, schools, and communities on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene, and help at-risk individuals. SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible non-policy and policy solutions that protect children and prevent gun violence. Our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation. Make the Promise at www.sandyhookpromise.org.
Dini von Mueffling Communications