Now Is the Time: The President’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence

A two fold plan presented by the President offers ways to reduce gun violence, but equally important is the plan to ensure that children are identified and get mental health services needed.

We need to enhance the physical security of our schools and our ability to respond to emergencies like mass shootings, and also create safer and more nurturing school climates. Each school is different and should have the flexibility to address its most pressing needs. Some schools will want trained and armed police; others may prefer increased counseling services. Either way, each district should be able to choose what is best to protect its own students. The Administration is proposing to:

GIVE LOCAL COMMUNITIES THE OPPORTUNITY TO HIRE UP TO 1,000 SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS AND SCHOOL COUNSELORS: School resource officers, school psychologists, social workers, and school counselors all have a role to play in keeping our students safe. We can help schools fill these roles by using this year’s COPS program to provide incentives for more police departments to hire school resource officers. And today, the President is proposing a new, comprehensive school safety initiative to help local school districts hire up to 1,000 school resource officers and school-based mental health professionals, as well as make other investments in school safety. The Department of Justice will also develop a model for using school resource officers, including best practices for working with students.
 ENSURE EVERY SCHOOL HAS A COMPREHENSIVE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PLAN: Many schools have plans for responding to emergencies like mass shootings, but too often, their plans are incomplete and their students and staff are not trained to follow them. The Administration will help schools, houses of worship, and institutions of higher education develop these plans, call on Congress to provide the resources for schools to implement them, and require those receiving safety funding from the Department of Education to have high-quality plans in place for all of their schools.
 CREATE SAFER SCHOOL CLIMATES: Making our schools safer is not just about cops and security cameras; we also need to improve the climate of our schools to reduce violence and bullying (which sometimes precedes a mass casualty event). The Administration is proposing to help 8,000 schools put in place proven strategies to reduce bullying, drug abuse, violence, and other problem behaviors, and to gather and share best practices on school discipline.

Though the vast majority of Americans with a mental illness are not violent, we need to do more to identify mental health issues early and help individuals get the treatment they need before dangerous situations develop. As President Obama has said, “We are going to need to work on making access to mental health care as easy as access to a
 MAKE SURE STUDENTS AND YOUNG ADULTS GET TREATMENT FOR MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES: Three quarters of mental illnesses appear by the age of 24, yet less than half of children with diagnosable mental health problems receive treatment. To increase access to mental health services for young people, we should:
o Provide “Mental Health First Aid” training to help teachers and staff
recognize signs of mental illness in young people and refer them to

o Support young adults ages 16 to 25, who have the highest rates of mental illness but are the least likely to seek help, by giving incentives to help states develop innovative approaches.

o Help break the cycle of violence in schools facing pervasive violence with a new, targeted initiative to provide their students with needed services like counseling.
o Train 5,000 more social workers, counselors, and psychologists, with a focus on those serving students and young adults.
 ENSURE COVERAGE OF MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT: The Affordable Care Act is the largest step to increase access to mental health services in a generation, providing health coverage for 30 million Americans, including 6 to 10 million people with mental illness. The Administration will take executive actions to ensure that millions of newly covered Americans, and millions more who already have health insurance, get quality mental health coverage by:
o Finalizing regulations to require insurance plans to cover mental health benefits like medical and surgical benefits.
o Ensuring Medicaid is meeting its obligation to cover mental health

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