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Obama's $120 million school safety plan

Obama's $120 million school safety plan

Video surveillance, school safety officers, concrete barriers, and metal detectors are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to preventing shootings in schools (PDF).

School safety experts suggest the best strategies for preventing school shooting complement those approaches, which they refer to as “target hardening,” or making targets more difficult to attack. People like Beverly Kingston, director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, suggest that halting school violence starts much earlier.

“Overall, you want to have a positive school climate, so how do you get to that result?” Kingston said. “We want to train schools to detect problems early, and we want to deal with things a lot sooner than when the kid’s really in trouble.”

The President’s 2015 budget proposal includes $120 million to create safe schools and intervene early in the childhoods of troubled children, aiming at reducing bullying and boosting children with specific mental health needs. $25 million is reserved for schools with high levels of violence, to help students deal with trauma and anxiety from the dangers they face—and to help prevent more violence in the future. Another $50 million is meant to train teachers and staff in evidence-based strategies that reduce violence and bullying.

The approach is part of the Secret Service’s report on school shootings, made in May 2002 (PDF). The most immediate approach is to make it safe for other students to report their concerns anonymously, since the report found that in about 81 percent of the cases they studied, other children knew something. In Colorado, a free anonymous hotline called Safe2Tell was set up after the Columbine Commission’s report to give young people a way to report danger without fear of retaliation.

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