Post mass shootings, many U.S. politicians and lawmakers have pointed to mental health concerns as a leading cause of violence. According to Gun Violence, there has been a total of 34,353 gun-related violence incidents this year in the United States, including 9,092 deaths. With the new school year approaching, parents and faculty may be concerned about violence on school grounds. Both Democrats and Republicans have been addressing mass shootings, with some bipartisan support for Red Flag Laws

This year, there has been 14 school shootings with injuries or death according to Education Week. The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health created a program in 2009 to help prevent violent incidents from occurring on school grounds. The program is called the School Threat Assessment and Responsive Team (START), which provides training and program consultation, early screening and identification, assessment, interventions and case management. 

The Los Angeles County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger held a press conference Monday at Torrance High School to shed light on the expansion of the START program. The program has grown since it first began in 2009 with 10 members, to now 42 members. 

“Unfortunately, plenty of kids and their parents will be worried about school violence. I know I have those worries, I’m a mother of five grandchildren and too often after a mass shooting you hear about concerning behavior and red flags that were in the shooters past that were only reported after it was too late,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said. 

The program aims to train not only school staff members but also parents, students, health providers and law enforcement. Training and program consultation provide a various amount of situations to be aware of – for example, early screening is a consultation that works with individuals to prevent and manage violent situations. The assessment provides schools with resources to help students, interventions collaborate with schools to decide whether an individual needs further assistance such, as a mental health assessment or hospitalization. Lastly, case management makes sure there are ongoing support services. 

The START program has found much of its success with a high demand for the services of the program. The program also collaborates with the Los Angeles Unified School District, including the Los Angeles Police Department, to ensure everyone is on the same page. 

“We must prioritize students’ mental health by breaking down barriers to resources and eliminating stigmas. This school year, @SupJaniceHahn and I are proud to expand the School Threat Assessment Response Teams through @LACDMH (Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health) to prevent disasters and provide compassionate care,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger tweeted. 

If any school faculty, students or parents have concerns about an individual, the START program has a 24/7 hotline 1(800) 854-7771 that anyone can call. People will be assisted with services such as school visits, evaluations, law enforcement, student’s home visits and mental health treatment. 

Written ByMaydeen Merino

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