Supervisors push to empower students to call school threat response teams
Los Angeles County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger have proposed a new education campaign that would inform local students about how to report potential threats of school violence.
The School Threat Assessment Response Teams program was created in 2009 as a way to prevent school violence. In 2019, Hahn and Barger championed expanding the START team members from 10 to 42. The teams consist of mental health professionals who respond to reports about students who may be a threat to themselves or others.
“The START program has become an important resource for schools across the county, and I believe it has helped us prevent tragedies,” Hahn said. “But up until now, this program has mostly responded to calls from teachers and school administrators – not the students themselves. Students are often the first to notice concerning behavior by one of their classmates and we need to make sure they know what START is and how to contact them.”
Anyone can contact START and make a referral when they see warning signs by emailing START@dmh.lacounty.gov or calling (213)739-5565.
On July 26, the Board of Supervisor unanimously approved a motion instructing the department of mental health to implement an education campaign aimed at informing students about what START does, how to make a referral to START if they see concerning behavior from a peer and examples of warning signs and behavior to report.
“We need to do everything in our power to stop school violence in its tracks as early as possible,” Barger said. “I am a proud co-author of this motion because that’s exactly what it’s about – decreasing the odds that an active shooter or another act of violence will impact our county’s youth by being proactive about providing mental health services. Our youth deserve to be in a safe, secure environment that fully supports their learning and healthy development.”
The program should launch during the 2022-2023 school year.