How To Make Schools Safer Without Additional Physical Security Measures
On June 25, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) into law, spurred in part by the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, one month prior.1 After years of failed attempts to pass gun safety reform measures, this law finally broke through the decadeslong stalemate on gun violence prevention to advance an agenda that grapples with the many facets of this national crisis, including a particular focus on the youth mental health issues plaguing the United States.
In addition to imposing gun safety measures, the BSCA addresses some of the root causes of school violence, particularly the need to improve school climate. Importantly, the law authorizes and appropriates funding for schools and districts to use for mental health services, out-of-school programs, and community-based supports rather than for “hardening” schools by, for example, adding metal detectors, access control devices, and armed security. In fact, the BSCA explicitly prohibits using funding to arm teachers or other school staff.
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