School violence prevention under Burgess bill supports students’ mental, behavioral health

To support the mental and behavioral health of America’s students, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) on April 28 offered bipartisan legislation that would set the course for using intervention teams to identify the earliest signs of violence to self or others.

“This pandemic has challenged every American, including our students,” Rep. Burgess said earlier this week. “School-aged children are at a prime age for identification and treatment of behavioral health issues, which is why it is important that as we work quickly to get them back in the classroom that we also take precautions to ensure their safety on all fronts.” 

Rep. Burgess is the lead original cosponsor of the Behavioral Intervention Guidelines (BIG) Act of 2021, H.R. 2877, which was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA) and fellow cosponsor U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA). 

H.R. 2877, if approved, would enable the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in consultation with the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice, and Homeland Security and a variety of stakeholders, to develop best practices for the proper use and implementation of behavioral intervention programs to support students, according to a summary provided by Rep. Burgess’ office.

Once established, the best practices would be disseminated on the HHS department website and HHS would provide technical assistance for elementary, secondary and higher education institutions that want to create their own behavioral intervention team, the summary says.

“By providing training for behavioral health intervention and services, we can work to prevent further tragedy from happening,” said Rep. Burgess. “The BIG Act is critical legislation that will equip schools and communities with the tools they need to ensure the safety and health of each student. I hope that other members will join us in this effort.”

The legislation is supported by numerous organizations, including the Association on Higher Education and Disability, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the School Superintendents Association, the National School Boards Association, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, and Sandy Hook Promise, among others.