Task Force charged with keeping students safe from violence

The newly formed bipartisan Violence Prevention Task Force met for the first time on Monday.

Charged with finding ways to keep students safe and prevent the types of attacks that occurred at NIU, Sandy Hook and Columbine, lawmakers heard testimony from educators, law enforcement and mental health professionals on what needs to be done to keep students safe.

First Lady Diana Rauner testified that early childhood programs could help prevent potential acts of violence by identifying vulnerable children. But, more needs to be done to help them after they are identified. Mrs. Rauner is president of the nonprofit Once of Prevention Fund.

Others testified that much more should be done to help children before they turn to violence and protect children from that violence.

Given a report that showed opportunities were missed to treat the 20-year-old who killed 26 people, including children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who attended the task force hearing, agrees that lawmakers must do more to protect families from violence. “Acts of violence occur all too often in our communities. Sadly, mental health and crime are increasingly intertwined, and a comprehensive approach by the Legislature is timely and necessary,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said.