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Greetings from your State Capitol. While the Legislature is not in session for the remainder of the year, our work continues through the summer and fall. In light of the horrific elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, I would like to highlight an important piece of legislation passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2021 that created the School Safety and Security Reporting System Act. The Act was contained in LB322, my personal priority bill, that I introduced on behalf of the education community of Nebraska.
The School Safety and Security Reporting System Act includes an anonymous report line called “Safe2Help Nebraska”, which provides an electronic mechanism for students, teachers, parents and the greater school community to report concerning behavior related to students and school property. In addition, the system provides a process to deal with the concerning behavior by using de-escalation techniques along with providing a supportive environment. The program is available at no cost to both public and private K-12 schools in Nebraska. Reports are initially received by a well-trained team of counselors located at Boys Town, which assesses reports and counsels callers. Reports then are handed off to a threat assessment team at the involved school.
LB322 was modeled after a yearlong pilot program conducted in Douglas County schools and funded through a federal grant. The program, called “Safe 2 Call” logged 470 reports that ranged from concerns of suicide, bullying, and other mental health issues to physical threats against others and school property. According to a recent news article the program has been picked up by about a quarter of all school districts in the State, and has received more than 1,300 total reports since January 2020, including 10 tip reports about planned school attacks. We have been blessed to have no recent deadly school attacks in Nebraska. The safety of our kids can be directly linked to the tools we create and use, including Safe2Help Nebraska.
National statistics indicate that in over 80 percent of violent school incidents, the person intending harm told someone about their intentions. That was certainly true in the case of the shooter at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Many ideas have been offered to confront the epidemic of school shootings, and the problem will have to be addressed on many fronts. I am very proud of what we have done in Nebraska. Providing means such as Safe2Help Nebraska, a proven and uncomplicated tool, should be uppermost in the minds of all school systems and lawmakers across the country. I encourage everyone to check with their school to sign up for the free Safe2Help Nebraska system.
As always, feel free to contact me anytime at (402) 471-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again for your continued support.
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