Summit generates ideas to make Ill. schools safer

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm •  Published: January 22, 2013
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn, school administrators and mental health and public safety experts said Tuesday that they left a school safety summit with pages of ideas, including improving resources for mental health and encouraging students to speak up if they hear about potential threats.

"We want to educate all of those who come through the school building, including the students, that being silent about potential violence is a very dangerous thing," Quinn said at a news conference after the summit.

More than 50 people gathered at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in response to a call from the governor following last month's Connecticut school shooting. He said that shooting and one in a Colorado movie theater last year served as an "alarm bell."

Quinn described the summit as an early step in an ongoing conversation to find measures that could prevent violent episodes in schools. Quinn cited existing efforts in communities across the state that could be adopted by other towns. In the suburban Chicago community of Berwyn, the governor said, teachers and school staffers receive training regarding violence in the classroom.

"If there are any problems of violence such as bullying, hazing going on, we have to address those. We cannot look the other way," he said.

Quinn also said he will be looking into whether adequate mental health services are available to educators and students to prevent violence.

Quinn said some of the ideas discussed at Tuesday's summit may lead to legislation and that the topic also is likely to come up in his State of the State address next month.

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