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Congressman Baca Announces Plan To Make Schools Safe

Location: Rialto, CA

Date: August 30, 2005


Rialto - {Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto), during a visit to Carter High School today, announced that he will introduce legislation to halt the epidemic of violence that has plagued schools in the Inland Empire, throughout California, and across America.

"School violence is a serious problem that endangers students, interferes with learning and harms our communities," declared Rep. Baca. "My legislation will help make schools safer for students throughout the United States."

The National Center for Education Statistics conducted a study that documented just how pervasive and alarming the problem of school violence is. Among its findings in the year 2000:

American students ages 12 through 18 were victims of more than 2.7 million total crimes at school.

Nationwide, there were 253,000 serious violent crimes at school, such as rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault. There were also 60 school-associated violent deaths.

The percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 who were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during one year was about 8 percent.

The percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 who reported being in a physical fight on school property was about 15 percent.

Rep. Baca said, "I am here at Carter High School today because we must confront the problem of violence on campus, which has occurred at this school, and so many other schools. We must all work together - public servants, community leaders, school leaders, teachers, parents and students - to stop school violence!"

Baca's legislation, known as the School Violence Prevention Act of 2005, requires the U.S. Department of Education to improve school violence prevention efforts and make sure that taxpayer money is being used to fund programs which have proven effective.

After noting the severity and prevalence of violence affecting American youth at school, Rep. Baca said, "The good news is that some school districts have developed effective remedies to reduce violence. We must make them available to everyone."

Under current practice, many school districts are not fully informed about successful efforts to reduce, and prevent, violence. Meanwhile, the federal government is awarding funding for some programs that have failed to shield students from violence.

Baca summarized some of the successful strategies for preventing school violence, including training student and staff to both prevent and respond to crises, developing appropriate and effective disciplinary policies and security procedures and holding community summits to focus on school safety and the problems of gangs and bullying.

Also attending the press conference were State Senator Nell Soto, Assemblyman Joe Baca Jr., San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzalez and San Bernardino Councilman Gordon McGinnis as well as Edna Herring, Arturo Delgado, Herb Fischer and Dennis Byas, school superintendents from Rialto, San Bernardino City, San Bernardino County and Colton respectively. San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos, Chief Ken Roulon of the Colton Police Department, Chief Larry Clark of the Fontana Police Department, Assistant Chief Arthur Burgess of the Rialto Police Department, Captain Eric Hopley of the Ontario Police Department, Jerry Harper, chief probation officer for San Bernardino County and other law enforcement officials also were present. In addition, other school and community leaders, activists and concerned residents participated in the event.

Surrounded by community and school leaders, Rep. Baca closed his remarks by reassuring the assembled students "We care, and we are here to help."

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