Federal commission focuses on mental heath and improving school security measures
- Members and designated representatives for the Federal Commission on School Safety held roundtable discussions with state and local officials during its second listening session in Lexington, Ky., this week, where the focus of attention was largely expanding safety measures for schools, including the increased use of school resource officers, and improving access to mental health services and interventions, Education Week reports.
- Members explored cultural causes for the increase in recent school violence incidents and considered the pros and cons of such issues as exposure to violent video games and programs, intense media coverage of shooting events, the possible over prescription of psychotropic drugs, increased screen time and cellphone use, the impact of adverse childhood experiences, and the impact of the opioid crisis.
- The commission also discussed a number of possible solutions, including increased funding for school security measures and school resource officers, increased access to a variety of mental health services, arming teachers in the classroom, limiting cellphone use among younger students, increased gun safety and regulation, and expanding voucher programs to remove more students from public school settings where shootings are more likely to occur.
The Federal Commission on School Safety is tasked with seeking solutions to the problem of school violence, and is the Trump Administration's response to a spate of school shootings in recent months. While a discussion of gun control seems an obvious major point of discussion in the committee, especially considering student protests in the spring, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has already indicated that major gun control reform is beyond the scope of the commission, and thus far, discussion of these issues seems to be limited, even during the "listening sessions."
While access to guns will continue to be an issue of debate, several conclusions do seem to be emerging from the commission meetings. One is that the idea of arming and training teachers, an idea originally touted by President Donald Trump, lacks support from the public and from law enforcement officials who feel this duty should left to those with proper training and support. However, the idea of expanding the use of school resources officers and increasing other security measures at school does seem to have broad-based support.
Another idea that seems to have almost universal appeal is the expansion of mental health services to schools. While the root causes of these mental health issues remains debatable, there seems to be a consensus that schools can play a greater role in providing mental health assessments and supports if they are to reduce the chance of violent events in the future.