State senators last Friday approved a bill aimed at addressing school violence and teen suicide.
In support of the Safety And Violence Education—or SAVE Students Act for students, lead sponsor Sen. Barry R. Finegold referred to recent school shootings.
“We need to do everything we can to keep our kids safe,” said Finegold, a Democrat from Andover. “Losing a child to suicide or a school shooting is a parent’s worst nightmare, and the SAVE Students Act takes much-needed steps to prevent these catastrophes.”
Finegold added, “the bill will help change school culture and empower students to speak up about threats of violence towards others or self-harm.” Finegold developed the SAVE Students Act in partnership with Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit created to teach the warning signs of potential violence and led by those whose loved ones were killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He thanked the founders of Sandy Hook Promise for sharing their stories and turning their grief into a call to action.
The bill was co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Natalie M. Higgins.
To address the issues of school violence and teen suicide, the bill expands violence prevention and suicide awareness programming in schools, creates an anonymous reporting system for tips related to student safety concerns and tasks the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education with developing a model threat assessment policy for responding to dangerous activity.
In the past 25 years, more than 310,000 students have been exposed to gun violence during school, and more than 185 students, educators and other personnel have been shot and killed. In addition, between 2007 and 2018, suicide rates rose by more than 57 per cent for those aged 10 to 24.
The SAVE Students Act still requires action by the state House of Representatives.