Every morning, Monday through Friday, more than 50 million children across America leave their homes and head off to school. They sit in classrooms, play outside on playgrounds, and walk through the halls with the reassurance that they are safe on their school’s campus. But a recent epidemic of school violence has shocked our nation, and the ability of our schools to protect their students has been called into question.
In the wake of last month’s horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Congress is examining what can be done to prevent violence in America’s schools. As legislators, one of our highest priorities is protecting the most vulnerable among us – especially children. No student, teacher, or staff member should fear for their safety during the school day.
The recent acts of violence at our schools have left some students feeling unprotected in a place where they should feel comfortable to learn, grow, and be happy. More must be done to protect our students and ensure their safety. To help curb violence in schools across the nation, on March 14th, the House of Representatives passed the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act, a product of the House Judiciary Committee, with overwhelming support.
This bipartisan bill creates a multi-layered approach to identify threats and prevent violence from taking place on school grounds. The STOP School Violence Act provides much-needed resources to train students, teachers, and law enforcement officers on how to recognize and respond quickly to warning signs and authorizes funding for technology to keep schools secure. This includes the development and operation of anonymous reporting systems, like mobile apps or a hotline, to provide tips about potential attacks and persons who may be inclined to commit acts of violence on campus. Funding may also be used for metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other technologies.
Most importantly, this legislation ensures that students, teachers, and law enforcement will learn how to identify at-risk behaviors, properly assess threats, and intervene appropriately before a tragedy strikes. With more coordination amongst law enforcement, improved technology, and in-depth training for school officials, we can ease the minds of students and faculty and prevent school shootings before they happen. Schools will be able to respond more quickly and effectively to threats as they arise.
The STOP School Violence Act is a good step toward making our schools safe again. We will continue to examine issues pertaining to school safety, including holding a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, in order to create a secure environment for children across the nation. Our children are our future, and their education should not be interrupted because of fear for their safety. I strongly support this bill, and it is my sincere hope that it will soon make its way to the President’s desk to become law.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte