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August 27, 1998: Protecting America's Communities

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"When children in inner city schools must walk through metal detectors to protect them from the threat of violence, when high schools in small towns like Springfield, Oregon and Jonesboro, Arkansas are torn apart by disturbed teenagers armed with deadly weapons, when gang violence still ravages communities large and small, we know we must do more."

President Bill Clinton
August 27, 1998

Today, President Clinton travels to Worcester, Massachusetts to discuss school safety. The President will announce: (1) the release by the Departments of Justice and Education of an Early Warning Guide for teachers and principals to help identify and respond to the early warning signs of troubled youth that can lead to violence in schools; and (2) the release of $30 million for states to provide college scholarships to aspiring law enforcement officers in return for a commitment of service.

Helping Schools Prevent And Respond To Violence. Schools are among the safest places our children can be. Nonetheless, last year's tragic and sudden acts of violence in a number of schools remind us that no community can afford to be complacent when it comes to protecting its children. In response to the tragic loss of life and injuries at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon, President Clinton directed the Secretary of Education and the Attorney General to develop a guide to help teachers, principals, and parents identify and respond to the early warning signs of troubled youth that can lead to school violence. Today, the guide will be posted on the Department of Education Website, www.ed.gov, and on September 1, a copy will be sent to every school in the country. The guide, based on research and experience in schools around the country, gives schools and communities information on how to:

  • Identify the early warning signs that relate to violence and other behaviors, including a list of specific signs to look for in troubled youth, such as: uncontrolled anger; patterns of impulsive and chronic hitting, intimidating, and bullying; detailed and specific threats to use violence; gang affiliations; feelings of persecution; and past history of violent and aggressive behaviors such as cruelty to animals or fire setting. Trained staff can use these early warning signs, together with knowledge about students and their circumstances, to determine when to seek help for individual students in order to prevent violence;

  • Take active steps to prevent and respond to school violence. The guide instructs schools on how to develop a violence prevention plan --including ways to get help for troubled children --and form a school-based team to oversee the plan's implementation. The guide also provides a crisis procedure checklist for schools to use if violence occurs. Finally, the guide lists actions students can take --such as listening to troubled friends, involving trusted adults, and asking law enforcement to conduct school safety audits --to help create safer schools.

Advancing The Education And Training Of New Community Police Officers. The President will alsoannounce the release of $30 million for 23 states to encourage young people to become law enforcement officers by offering them college scholarships. The Police Corps, which began with the passage of the Crime Act in 1994, provides educational assistance of up to $7,500 per year for four years for students who agree to serve on a state or local police force for an equal length of time. The Police Corps also provides policing agencies $10,000 per participant for each year of required service.

Talking To Communities About School Safety. Also today, in San Francisco, Vice President and Mrs. Gore will visit Lincoln High School and hold a listening session on school safety with parents, local law enforcement, and community leaders to discuss ways to make our schools safer and our children more secure. This session, and others held by administration officials around the country, will help the President and Vice President prepare for the upcoming White House Conference on School Safety on October 15th, 1998.

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