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Here's How We Actually Make Schools Safer
Thank you for your petition.
We're glad you're interested in making schools safer—it's a critical priority. That’s what we heard when we spoke with educators, police officers and first responders, and policy experts from across the country.
And helping law enforcement agencies hire school resource officers for school districts that want them should definitely be part of the solution.
But it's not the only step we need to take.
The President’s plan to reduce gun violence calls on Congress to provide $150 million for school districts and law enforcement agencies to hire staff to improve school safety. This grant program would empower school districts and law enforcement agencies to decide whether to use the funds to hire school resource officers, psychologists, social workers, or counselors based on the needs of their local schools.
We're working to help ensure that schools have effective and reliable emergency management plans in place, and that students and staff are prepared to follow these plans. That last step is critical. A 2010 survey found that while 84 percent of public schools had a written response plan in the event of a shooting, only 52 percent had drilled their students on the plan in the past year. That number has to improve.
The President has also proposed a new initiative to help thousands of schools train their teachers and staff to improve school climate by promoting positive student behavior, which evidence shows is a key step to reduce violence and bullying.
And the President has also proposed a new $130 million initiative to increase access to mental health services by taking steps such as helping teachers and other adults recognize signs of mental illness in students and refer them to help if needed. As President Obama has said repeatedly, the vast majority of people with mental health problems are not violent and are in fact more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of crime, but we know that too many of our young people turn to suicide when experiencing mental health disorders and in some cases -- an untreated condition can lead to further tragedy.
We share your commitment to improving the physical security of our nation's schools, but we just don't think that's enough to guarantee the safety of our kids by itself. We hope you'll join us in pushing for a comprehensive solution.