National PTA believes that school safety is a critical priority for all parents, educators, students, and community members. In our federal advocacy efforts, we promote legislative measures to protect children and youth from violence, particularly incidents that involve firearms.
In 2013, we strengthened our commitment to ensuring that schools are safe for our children. We prioritized school safety and gun violence prevention in our advocacy agenda and worked with our partners at the U.S. Department of Education in a series of school safety town halls to support community dialogue. Thousands of our members took action to urge their lawmakers to enact school safety policies and common sense gun violence prevention measures.
As 2013 draws to a close, where is Congress on school safety?
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy last year, there was a nationwide cry for stronger school safety legislation. In response, the 113th Congress introduced a number of bills aimed at reducing gun violence and creating avenues to school safety, including measures to increase access to mental health services and supports, reenact a federal ban on military-style assault weapons, and strengthen criminal background checks on firearm purchases. National PTA is disappointed to say that Congress failed to pass any of these measures in 2013 despite widespread public support and bipartisan endorsement of some of the proposals.
What Now? Looking ahead to 2014
With each passing day, gun-related injuries and violence in our schools continue. In the year since Sandy Hook, there have been over 11,000 gun related deaths in the United States, over 700 of which were children and teens.
As child advocates, we must call upon our national, state, and local leaders to make meaningful changes to ensure a safe learning environment for all children. Here’s how you can join National PTA in advocating for the safety of our children:
- Contact your Members of Congress: Reach out to your representatives and senators and urge them to make the elimination of violence in schools a top priority in 2014.
- Act locally: Your advocacy efforts should not stop with Congress. Does your local school district have an effective safety plan in place? Check out the PTA’s 10 Things You Can Do to Prevent Violence in Your School Community and our school safety advocacy guide which contains helpful resources for PTA members to advocate for school safety solutions.
In 2014, National PTA will renew our efforts to secure policies to reduce gun violence and promote school safety, including advocating for increased access to quality mental health services. School safety and violence prevention will be a key priority of our 2014 legislative agenda. To stay informed, join our Takes Action network and sign up to receive our action alerts. These alerts will notify you when Congress is acting on issues important to students and families and will give you the opportunity to contact your leaders to make your voice heard. We must not let Congress’s failure to act in 2013 affect the safety of our children.