Indiana’s school safety efforts are taking a turn from metal detectors and security officers to mental and emotional health.
A Senate committee may vote next week on a bill allowing the state’s school safety grants to be spent on providing mental health services in school. It’s among the recommendations of a Holcomb administration report on beefing up school safety, Indiana Urban Schools Association executive director David Marcotte says getting help to students with mental or emotional issues can head off problems before they arise.
Mental Health America of Indiana says the benefits would go beyond avoiding school shootings. Lisa Hutchinson says one in five teenagers has anxiety, depression or other mental illness. She says providing in-school services could reduce bullying, dropout rates and suicides. Fishers began a communitywide push to improve mental health services three years ago, including in-school services. Mayor Scott Fadness says nearly three-quarters of the students who have sought help have seen disciplinary problems come to an end, while more than half have seen their grades go up.
More than 30 school safety bills have been introduced, eight months after a teacher and student in Noblesville were wounded in a school shooting. The House has already passed one, to reduce the amount of money schools have to put up to qualify for state safety grants.