Senator Jay Rockefeller today announced that he cosponsored two bills calling for greater school security and improved mental health programs.
"West Virginians treasure our sense of community--that we can leave the back door unlocked and send our kids and grandkids outside to play without a worry. But the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School shook all of us, and made us ask ourselves whether we are doing enough to protect our kids," said Rockefeller. "Our children should never feel unsafe when they get on the school bus in the morning or enter a classroom. And at the same time, we simply must provide mental health support to young people who need it."
The School Safety Enhancement Act reauthorizes the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Secure Our Schools (SOS) grant program, which helps state and local governments partner with public schools to improve school safety with grants for security systems and hotlines. This program was created by the 1994 Crime Act, which Rockefeller fought to pass in the Senate.
The Mental Health in Schools Act directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to create a $200 million grant program for community-based organizations and schools to partner in providing training, awareness, and referrals for mental health services in schools.
Rockefeller is supporting these two bills as part of his broader focus on keeping children safe. He reintroduced a bill in January that would instruct the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent content on children's behavior and joined a bipartisan effort to fund additional mental health services in underserved communities. This Monday, March 25, in Martinsburg, Rockefeller will meet with parents, teachers, mental health experts, national advocacy groups, and representatives from the video game industry to discuss the impact of media violence on young people.