For much of the year, the safety of our students rests in the hands of the faculty, staff, and resource officers at our schools. Without a shadow of a doubt, the people who know best how to protect our schools are the teachers, parents, administrators, police officers, and students in their own communities.
In February, the tragic shooting in Parkland, Fla. resonated throughout our communities, highlighting a disturbing trend of individuals who clearly show signs of grave mental instability falling through the cracks.
Sadly, this incident likely could have been avoided had there been better oversight at every level of law enforcement. From the top down, we failed these students by not heeding the warning signs and working together as a team to ensure our students’ safety.
In response to this incident, the House recently passed the Student, Teacher’s Officer’s Prevention (STOP) School Violence Act, which provides grant funding for evidence-based training for our local law enforcement, school faculty and staff, and students to help identify and prevent school violence before these tragic events occur.
First, the STOP School Violence Act provides funding for training to prevent student violence, including training for local law enforcement officers, school personnel, and students in the event of an emergency. This training would be designed to give students and school personnel the ability to recognize and respond quickly to warning signs of violent behavior and would include active shooter training.
Second, the bill provides funding for technology and equipment to improve school security. This includes the development and operation of anonymous reporting systems, as well as the installation of metal detectors, locks, and other preventative technologies to keep schools secure.
The legislation also authorizes funding for school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams for school personnel to respond to threats before they become real-time incidents. Recognizing the warning signs of violent, threatening behavior and having the proper resources to address it on the front end can prevent these tragedies from ever occurring.
Finally, the STOP School Violence Act provides funding to support law enforcement coordination efforts, particularly the officers who already staff schools. From the federal level all the way down to our local law enforcement, we need to ensure there is accountability and communication when handling violent behavior.
Many of our local schools are already reevaluating their security measures and taking additional steps to promote a safe learning environment for our students. Our students’ safety and security should always remain a top priority, and I believe it is imperative that our local schools have the most appropriate resources in place in the event of an emergency.
As we look for ways to prevent these terrible tragedies, I am open to additional solutions to address the underlying issues that cause these events to occur. That said, I remain steadfastly committed to upholding the individual right of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms. Millions of Americans should not have their Second Amendment rights infringed upon due to the bad actions of a few individuals.
Rather, I believe we should focus on addressing mental health issues and combatting the role of violence in our modern culture, such as the prevalence of violent video games that normalize this behavior for our young students, and promoting commonsense solutions that will address the larger issues of mental health so that those with mental illness do not fall through the cracks.
There is still work to be done to ensure each child’s safety and well-being while attending classes. However, I am proud that we have taken this action in the House to promote a safe, secure learning environment for our children.
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Bradley Byrne is a member of U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.