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School Safety and Gun Violence Prevention Messaging Should Not Escalate Anxiety
Raising awareness about effective safe school practices and the need to prevent gun violence is critical; however, NASP cautions against images and messaging that can potentially trigger trauma reactions and/or escalate fear and anxiety in children and youth. We share concern and outrage over the reality of school shootings and support the position that there is no excuse for failing to implement the policies and practices that will genuinely reinforce ongoing student and staff safety and well-being. But we must do so without contributing to the harmful misperception that going back to school is tantamount to entering a war zone. Schools remain among the safest places for children and adults, and this should be the overarching message even while we advocate for improved policies.
NASP advocates for policies and practices that are proven to prevent violence: creating safe, supportive learning environments; improving access to school-based mental health services; balancing physical and psychological safety; employing reasonable-not excessive-building security measurers; having properly trained school safety, suicide risk and threat assessment teams; conducting appropriate (non-traumatizing) armed intruder and other emergency drills, and enacting long-overdue commonsense gun safety laws (including background checks, red flag laws, and banning high-capacity weapons). We believe that citizens and organizations across the country should raise their voice to urge leaders at the local, state and federal levels to enact laws and engage in efforts that are supported by sound research and practices.