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Can school counselors help reduce gun violence?


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Jun 12, 2018
Categories: Education, Health, Politics

Can school counselors help reduce gun violence?


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Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, has recently advocated for putting more counselors in Texas schools, as part of his plan to address school shootings (most of which involves physical measures, such as heightened security) in the wake of the shooting at Sante Fe High School. Texas is one of the only states that doesn't require counselors in schools, and it has the fifth highest ratio of students-to-counselors, which is an average of 684 students for every counselor. According to the article, many of these school counselors have to focus on scheduling and administrative work, and don't have as much time to address behavioral issues and mental health problems. Abbott recommended hiring more counselors as well as implementing "mental health first aid" programs for school district employees.

One issue that has already arisen is that many school districts in Texas are already struggling financially, and might not be able to reallocating funding to counseling. Others have suggested that Abbott's plan, while a step in the right direction, is not enough to address mentally ill shooters. In particular, some people are calling for more school-wide change to address mental health, rather than having the burden fall only on school counselors. Finally, some are suggesting that mental illness is not the root cause of school shootings, and therefore Abbott's plan is not effective. 

I personally think that this plan is a step in the right direction, but do forsee a lack of implementation due to low funding. I also think that we need larger cultural change inside and outside of schools, and more counselors isn't necessarily going to address that. For instance, I think that it may be too late to reach a near-18 year old who is willing to kill other children, and I wish there was more integrated mental health care and awareness beginning in elementary school. I also think that tougher gun control laws are necessary and many people who don't actually care about mental health issues are bringing it up to deflect attention from gun control, but that's a different debate. What are your thoughts, riothouse? 




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