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More mental health staff and less law enforcement at our schools?

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A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) finds that an overwhelming number of K-12 schools across the nation experience scarcity in school-based mental health personnel and a surplus of law enforcement personnel. The report finds that this stark contrast contributes to the over-criminalization of black, Latino and Native American students and harms students who need mental health supports.

During the past 10 years, the suicide rate among children ages 10 to 17 has increased by 70 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adolescent mental health struggles in Colorado are particularly acute; the suicide rate for teens ages 15 to 19 hit a record high in 2017, at 21 deaths by suicide per 100,000 teens in this age group and suicide is the leading cause of death among young people age 10-24 in Colorado.

School mental health counselors, psychologists, nurses and social workers often serve as the first line of defense for students, who see them as trusted adults. The benefits of investing in mental health services are clear. Schools with these services see improved attendance rates, better academic achievement, and higher graduation rates as well as lower rates of suspension, expulsion, and other disciplinary incidents. Data show that the presence of school-based mental health providers not only improves outcomes for students but can also improve overall school safety.

By contrast, there is no evidence that increased police presence in schools improves school safety. Indeed, in many cases, it causes harm and can lead to greater student alienation and a more threatening school climate.

CLICK to read full article at Colorado Children’s Campaign.

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