In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, the media has explored many different approaches to preventing similar tragedies from occurring, including arming teachers, increased school security measures, and more. Recently, NPR published an article detailing a concise document titled “Call for Action To Prevent Gun Violence In The United States of America.”
Two days after the Parkland school shooting, Matthew Mayer, a professor at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, and Shane Jimerson, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, worked collaboratively with other leading school violence experts in the field to develop the document. The authors are encouraging individuals and organizations to pledge to support this approach. According to NPR, about 200 universities, national education and mental health groups, school districts, and more than 2,300 individual experts have signed on with their support.
The call-to-action suggests eight approaches to making schools safer. While gun control may always be a part of the safer schools debate, it is not something that school administrators have immediate control over. Below we are focusing on the parts of the call-to-action that administrators can control to make schools safer. The reforms below will better equip schools with the skills and resources to support social and emotional health in students
- A national requirement for all schools to assess school climate and maintain physically and emotionally safe conditions and positive school environments that protect all students and adults from bullying, discrimination, harassment, and assault
- Adequate staffing (such as counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers) of coordinated school- and community-based mental health services for individuals with risk factors for violence, recognizing that violence is not intrinsically a product of mental illness
- Reform of school discipline to reduce exclusionary practices and foster positive social, behavioral, emotional, and academic success for students
- Universal background checks to screen out violent offenders, persons who have been hospitalized for violence towards self or others, and persons on no-fly, terrorist watch lists
- A national program to train and maintain school- and community-based threat assessment teams that include mental health and law enforcement partners. Threat assessment programs should include practical channels of communication for persons to report potential threats, as well as interventions to resolve conflicts and assist troubled individuals
- Removal of legal barriers to sharing safety-related information among educational, mental health, and law enforcement agencies in cases where a person has threatened violence
Read the full document here.