Cornyn, King Bill to Support Students’ Mental Health, Promote School Safety Signed into Law
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Angus King (I-ME) released the following statements after their Behavioral Intervention Guidelines (BIG) Act, legislation to help identify how educators can best implement behavioral intervention programs to identify and address early signs of potential violence among students, was signed into law:
“Many violent incidents at schools are preventable, but it’s critical educators are trained to recognize and respond to the signs that often precede them,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation will help inform the development of best practices for schools implementing life-saving behavioral intervention programs to protect the wellbeing of students in communities across the country, and I’m glad it is now law.”
“The last few years have exposed a real shortcoming in how America approaches mental health, especially for our children and students who experienced significant disruptions in their educations and social lives,” said Sen. King. “It’s time for new thinking that will be proactive and not just reactive. Young Americans deserve to get help before a mental health challenge becomes a crisis. The BIG Act establishes guidelines for local schools to identify students who need support and who may pose a danger to themselves or others. It also improves the connections between students and nearby mental health care providers, so that when a mental health challenge arises, our children can swiftly receive the care they need. All told, this is a significant, commonsense step to give local leaders the tools to keep our communities safe and our children’s futures bright. I’m grateful for Senator Cornyn’s partnership on this bipartisan legislation and am deeply grateful we were able to get it passed into law.”
The National Threat Assessment Center research recognizes that 80% of incidents of targeted violence were preceded by concerning behaviors such as bullying, isolation, or concerning statements. The BIG Act will help schools across the nation implement life-saving programs to ensure our students stay safe, healthy, and successful. Specifically, the BIG Act would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Secretary of Education, to create a report to Congress on best practices to:
- Establish Behavioral Intervention Teams (BITs), which are small groups of appointed school officials who meet regularly to collect and review concerning information about at-risk community members and develop intervention plans to assist them, within schools.
- Help connect experts who develop and implement behavioral intervention programs within the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies. This in turn would create a feedback loop of best practices for behavioral intervention.
- Provide best practices for schools to establish BITs, training for schools in BIT best practices, and technical assistance for institutes of higher education and K-12 schools to assist them in implementing best practices.
The BIG Act is supported by the National Association for Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment, the Association on Higher Education and Disability, Association for Title IX Administrators, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, School Superintendents Association, National School Boards Association, International Law Enforcement Administrators, Sandy Hook Promise, Higher Education Case Manager’s Association, and the Jed Foundation.