Principals Organizations Support Obama's Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence
School safety relies not on firearms, but on relationships

Contact: 
Bob Farrace, NASSP, farraceb@nassp.org, 703-909-4661
Kaylen Tucker, NAESP, ktucker@naesp.org, 703-518-6257

January 16, 2013; Reston, VA–The National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals issued the following statement in response to President Obama's proposals to reduce gun violence.

NASSP and NAESP applaud President Obama for his proposals to reduce gun violence and we pledge our support to ongoing efforts to make those proposals a reality. The president’s proposals reflect many of the recommendations that our organizations submitted last week to Vice President Biden. We’re encouraged by the call for support for more resource officers, school counselors, and psychologists, and that the decisions are made locally with schools. The recognition of the importance of open lines of communication among schools, community health agencies, and law-enforcement officials is also commendable. Stronger efforts to reduce bullying will be met with wide acceptance from school leaders, as will more resources to identify and address mental health issues and more training for educators to constructively participate in those efforts. (NAESP note: see recommendations to Congressman Thompson's Task Force, here.)

NAESP and NASSP are calling for more coordination between education and mental health service systems as a part of the comprehensive movement to prevent future gun and related violence in schools. Principals and mental health service providers need the ability to get students and their families the help they need more quickly without unnecessary policy barriers. “Principals should have immediate access to services for children who repeatedly demonstrate disturbing behaviors--not years later,” said NAESP Executive Director, Gail Connelly. “The Administration and Congress must help set the models for how schools and communities can work together to serve and protect all students. This is the type of systemic change our nation needs to put an end to horrible violent events like Sandy Hook,” she said.

JoAnn Bartoletti, NASSP Executive Director, commented, “No one internalizes more than principals what President Obama called our first task as a society: To keep our children safe. Within schools, that safety relies not on guns, but on trusting relationships and a feeling of belonging.” Similarly, the best way to defend against an attack from the outside is to prevent it by maintaining open communication among various community agencies and entities, which increases the chances of threat detection.

We thank the president and vice president for the opportunity to participate in the process that led to these proposals and we look forward to working with them in the coming months to further their effect.

About NASSP

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and 36 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development as   well, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils.

About NAESP

Established in 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) serves the nation’s elementary and middle school principals in the United States, Canada, and overseas. NAESP leads in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle-level principals and other education leaders in their commitment to all children.

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