Wilk’s ‘Saugus Strong Act’ Clears First Committee

Politics and government

News release  

Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, announced Wednesday that his “Saugus Strong Act,” aimed at addressing student mental health and school safety, passed out of the state Senate Education Committee. 

“Right now there is a mental health crisis in our society, but our youth are undoubtedly suffering the most. Students are experiencing increased rates of on-campus violence, bullying and higher rates of suicide,” Wilk said in a prepared statement. “The 2019 Saugus High School shooting was a tragic consequence of serious unaddressed mental health issues. Perhaps if students had a safe way to report their concerns, violence and death could have been avoided.” 

The measure, Senate Bill 643, would require education agencies to create a system that would allow students, parents, or concerned community members to anonymously report potential threats or violence. Each public school would be required to prominently post on their website an anonymous tip line, which could be a phone hotline, website, email address, mobile application, or any combination of the four. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, emergency room visits for suicide attempts among adolescents jumped over 30% in 2020 compared to 2019. In school shooting incidents 80% of perpetrators had previously notified others of their intentions, according to findings by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education. 

“Listening to students’ concerns after the Saugus shooting really opened my eyes to the struggles they endure every day,” Wilk said in the statement. “It is way worse than anything my generation had to go through. Having this resource available to students and their families could very well mean the difference between life and death. I want to thank the committee for seeing the importance of this bill.”  

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