April 6, 2018

Volume 4 Issue 5


State Representative Janel Brandtjen

School Safety

There is no issue more crucial and more worthy of attention than ensuring the safety of our children. With another horrible, unimaginable tragedy in Parkland, Florida nearly two months ago, this issue has been brought to the forefront of public discourse once again. This month will be the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting that rocked the nation to its core. It's an issue that is uncomfortable to think about and address, but one that must be addressed regardless. Every parent wants to make sure their child is safe when they send them off to school. It is an issue that myself and my colleagues in the State Legislature take very seriously.

In order to address the issue of school safety, the Legislature held a special session last month. During that session, the Legislature passed, and Governor Walker signed into law, a bill that appropriates $100 million to help schools across the state improve their security. All schools across the state will be eligible to apply for grants. The way these funds will be used has been left to the schools themselves to decide, as they know their needs when it comes to keeping our children safe better than anyone.

No student should ever fear for their life when they go to school. No teacher or administrator should ever fear for their life when they go to work. This bill will go a long way to improving the safety of our schools, and preventing further tragedies from occurring. However, funding for school security is not the only way that this issue can be addressed. We need to be more proactive in making sure that we do everything possible to identify potential threats and intervene before the unthinkable occurs.

Mental Health is Key

School shootings are different than terrorist attacks. These crimes are committed by students (or ex-students) who are literally "acting out" in a violent and deadly manner. Research suggests all school shooters have at least one thing in common. They all leave clues as to their plans to kill. They all seem to find some way to communicate their intentions and much more attention should be given to the subtle signs of a troubled student.

Most experts agree that the school shooters generally fit a certain profile. These students generally display antisocial behavior, violent tendencies, and a fascination with weapons. Many feel bullied and misunderstood.

I will be working with other legislators during the upcoming recess to explore ways that we can help educators identify and assist troubled teens.  

Student Face Many Threats

Although protecting our students while they're in the classroom is critically important, it's not the only thing we as a state can do to protect them. School safety is just one of the areas that needs to be addressed in order to make sure the well-being of our children is preserved.

Wisconsin is currently experience a teen mental health crisis. Suicide rate for teenagers is our state is 12 per 100,000. That rate is 20% higher than the national average. In addition, self harm is on the rise in Wisconsin. As adults, teachers, and parents, it is our duty to be a listening ear for children and teens that are suffering. And it is our responsibility to address this issue. That's why my colleagues and I will be looking to put forward legislation that will help our state better address these problems.

This crisis is not limited to suicide and self harm. The opioid epidemic is still a major public health issue in Wisconsin. The drug overdose mortality rate in our state is 19.3 per 100,000. Our children and teens are just as susceptible to addiction as anyone else. The penalties for dealing heroin remain extremely soft and are sometimes non-existent.

Safe driving has always been an issue for young people. The CDC lists car accidents as the leading cause of death for teens. Texting and driving is a huge issue that adds to the already dangerous combination of inexperience and lax sense of responsibly displayed by young drivers.

Government Failure is to Blame at Parkland

We are all deeply concerned and saddened by every senseless act of violence. It hits even harder when young lives are affected in such traumatic fashion. We will not be able to prevent every shooting, eliminate every crime and foil every unwelcome incident. Bad people do bad things. However the fact of the matter is the Parkland tragedy should had never happened. The school officials knew the shooter was a threat. The FBI knew the shooter was a threat, and the local police knew the shooter was a threat. He himself asked for help.

Yet the media quickly turned the conversation to the NRA and gun control. Unfortunately, we have yet to have a productive conversation of how we can help to prevent these kinds of tragedies. In the upcoming months, we will need to address many different aspects of school safety, including mental health, increased school security, and how to pay for these extra services.      

God Bless Wisconsin!


Rep.Brandtjen@legis.wisconsin.gov State Capitol Room 221 North - PO Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 Toll Free: (888) 534-0022 or (608) 267-2367

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RepJanel                 Website: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly/22/brandtjen                                                                 Twitter: @RepJanel

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