TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A recent study shows a majority of Hoosier parents think their kids are safe at school but, after seventeen people were killed in a Florida school shooting, Indiana lawmakers will discuss other safety measures during a special session.
Indiana is one of only two states in the nation with a law requiring every public school have a certified safety specialist. Most schools in the state have more than one. These specialists are trained to deal with everything from cyber bullying to active shooters. They do not have to have a background in security and can sometimes be the school superintendent or principal.
According to the National Survey of Children's Health nearly eighty percent of Hoosier parents "definitely agree" their student is safe in school but those responses were collected before recent school shootings in other parts of the country.
Tami Silverman is CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. She says the goal is to reach ninety-five percent of parents feeling their children are safe while at school.
"The reality is if you don't feel safe in your environment you're not going to be able to focus on your studies, you're not going to be as engaged in school."
Governor Eric Holcomb wanted lawmakers to approve additional funding for school safety during the regular session but they did not. Now, they'll head back to the capital in May to take up the issue again.
News 10 asked you on Facebook what measures lawmakers should consider. Some says schools should have metal detectors. Others think military veterans should get jobs as armed guards. Several people also mentioned mental health and the need for more counselors and resources for students who are victims of bullying.
Silverman says, "Access to mental health professionals for students is inadequate at this point. We know that there's just not enough individuals out there providing the services and there isn't access to that for all of our students."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick is asking lawmakers for more money for mental health resources. She also thinks private schools should have the same safety requirements as public schools.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, will be decided during the May special session.
Silverman says parents should contact their schools to learn more about the safety plan. She says concerned parents or family will often ask police questions but it is up to the schools to establish a safety plan. School officials will likely not go into detail but should be able to provide some answers to parents.
For more information about the Indiana Youth Institute, click here.
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