Legislation designed to help prevent school shootings passes House committee
'This is an opportunity to make kids safer at school,' says Rep. Kevin Parker
Legislation passed the House Education Committee today that would create a program for students and members of the community to anonymously report concerns about school-based unsafe or violent activities, or the threat of said activities.
Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, and sponsor of House Bill 2823, said the idea behind his Students Protecting Students bill is to create a safe, anonymous environment for students to report what they see in order to prevent violence or shootings at schools.
“This is an opportunity to make kids safer at school,” said Parker, R-Spokane. “As a parent, I know the trepidation and fear that hits us each time we hear or read about violence in our schools. We trust that our children are safe when they leave us for the day, but we all want to make sure we're doing everything we can to make that a reality, not just an assumption.”
Parker's bill is modeled after a national program called Safe2Tell. Studies have revealed that oftentimes violence at schools is preceded by threats, conversations or other information that is rarely passed on from students to adults.
“I think of this Students Protecting Students program as a backup plan to communicate,” said Parker. “Ideally, kids are coming home and talking to their parents about what they see and hear at school, and those parents – if worried – report to school officials or local law enforcement. But we know that doesn't always happen. If we can educate students about talking more and sharing this type of information, and then provide a safe, anonymous avenue in which to share it, we can help ensure their safety.”
Parker, who was a school volunteer and present at the 1999 Columbine school shooting, called today's action by the committee the “first chapter in a multi-chapter book” in helping make students in Washington safer.
The 60-day 2016 legislative session is scheduled to end March 10.
###Washington State House Republican Communications