On July 29, 2022, State Senator Jason Lewis joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate in passing An Act relative to safety and violence education for students, which is also known as the SAVE Students Act. This bipartisan legislation expands violence prevention and suicide awareness programming in schools, creates an anonymous reporting system for tips related to student safety concerns and tasks the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) with developing a model threat assessment policy for responding to dangerous activity.
“We must do everything possible to support our schools in keeping students and staff safe, and ensuring a positive and healthy learning environment,” said Senator Jason Lewis, who is the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “I was very pleased to work with Senator Finegold and Sandy Hook Promise to help get the SAVE Students Act passed in the Senate.”
Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization founded to protect children from gun violence in honor of the precious lives that were lost in the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, helped draft and advocate for this legislation. “Research proves that the most effective way to prevent school shootings, violence, and suicide is teaching youth and adults the warning signs and how to get help,” said Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund Cofounder/CEO Mark Barden – the father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.
The SAVE Students Act is a response to two concurrent crises: a school shooting crisis and a youth mental health crisis. In the past 25 years, over 310,000 students have been exposed to gun violence during school, and more than 185 students, educators and other school personnel have been shot and killed. In addition, between 2007 and 2018 suicide rates rose by more than 57 percent for those aged 10 to 24. The SAVE Students Act complements the state legislature’s ongoing efforts on comprehensive gun safety and behavioral health reforms.
On July 30, the House of Representatives referred the SAVE Students Act to its Committee on Ways and Means.