School Safety and Mental Health Policy Recommendations

Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, NAESP has worked to provide lawmakers with research-based, nonpartisan recommendations on school safety.

School safety issues are very complex, but there is consensus among principals that the nation must find meaningful, systemic, research-based solutions. Based on this, NAESP believes principals should have additional training on emergency management that is appropriate to their school context, and that both bullying and harassment prevention programs must be bolstered and coordinated with mental health services so that principals can help students access the services they need.

As lawmakers take up issues related to school safety and children’s mental health, NAESP will continue to engage in discussions to support nonpartisan policies consistent with the values of the majority of principals we represent. NAESP will continue to urge Congress to legislate and fund programs that provides support for schools and addresses mental health issues.

For technical assistance and professional development resources on how to deal with a school crisis and ensure your school is safe, please visit the NAESP school safety resource page.

Educators Call for Interdisciplinary, Multitiered Framework to Improve School Safety

NAESP, with The American School Counseling Association, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of School Resource Officers, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and School Social Work Association of America released "A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools," their joint recommendations for improved school safety and access to mental health services for students.

This interdisciplinary framework offers six policy recommendations and eight best practices for successful schools. From the framework:

"Efforts to improve school climate, safety, and learning are not separate endeavors. They must be designed, funded, and implemented as a comprehensive school-wide approach that facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration and builds on a multitiered system of supports. We caution against seemingly quick and potentially harmful solutions, such as arming school personnel, and urge policy leaders to support the following guidance to enact policies that will equip America’s schools to educate and safeguard our children over the long term."

Read the full framework here.

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Principals Oppose Arming School Officials

NAESP together with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) released a joint statement opposing measures allowing teachers and principals to carry firearms in schools. Research has shown that the presence of armed school personnel, increased numbers of school resource officers, as well as the purchase of other visible school security equipment will not necessarily deter the kind of violence that took place at Sandy Hook. The following is an excerpt of the joint statement:

“In the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we all feel a desperate need to honor the memories of the victims and take steps to prevent such horror from happening again. In that spirit, many well-meaning policymakers are proposing to allow teachers and principals to carry firearms in school. As the professional organization for our nation’s principals, we strongly oppose such policies.

A principal’s first responsibility is to foster a safe, orderly, warm, and inviting environment. To be effective, schools must be perceived as safe havens where students want to be. The presence of armed school officials on campus conveys the opposite message to students and to the local community. Is the school really safe, a parent might wonder, if the principal feels that he or she needs to carry a firearm? Any impression that obstructs a trusting relationship in school compromises school safety instead of enhancing it.”

Read the full statement here.

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