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Obama to Put More 'Counselors' in Schools

12:01 PM, Jan 16, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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President Barack Obama will put more "counselors" in school to help thwart gun violence. According to a background briefer provided by the White House, Obama hopes to add an additional 1,000 "school resource officers and counselors." 

From the White House's document:

PUT UP TO 1,000 MORE SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS AND COUNSELORS IN SCHOOLS AND HELP SCHOOLS INVEST IN SAFETY: Putting school resource officers and mental health professionals in schools can help prevent school crime and student-on-student violence. School resource officers are specially trained police officers that work in schools. When equipped with proper training and supported by evidence-based school discipline policies, they can deter crime with their presence and advance community policing objectives. Their roles as teachers and counselors enable them to develop trusting relationships with students that can result in threats being detected and crises averted before they occur. School psychologists, social workers, and counselors can help create a safe and nurturing school climate by providing mental health services to students who need help. Not every school will want police officers or additional school counselors, but we should do what we can to help schools get the staff they determine they need to stay safe.

Take executive action to provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers: COPS Hiring Grants, which help police departments hire officers, can already be used by departments to fund school resource officers. This year, the Department of Justice will provide an incentive for police departments to hire these officers by providing a preference for grant applications that support school resource officers.

Put up to 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors on the job: The Administration is proposing a new Comprehensive School Safety program, which will help school districts hire staff and make other critical investments in school safety. The program will give $150 million to school districts and law enforcement agencies to hire school resource officers, school psychologists, social workers, and counselors. The Department of Justice will also develop a model for using school resource officers, including best practices on age-appropriate methods for working with students.

Invest in other strategies to make our schools safer: School districts could also use these Comprehensive School Safety Grants to purchase school safety equipment; develop and update public safety plans; conduct threat assessments; and train “crisis intervention teams” of law enforcement officers to work with the mental health community to respond to and assist students in crisis. And the General Services Administration will use its purchasing power to help schools buy safety equipment affordably.

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