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Legislation on gun violence must prioritize children's health, avoid exacerbating harms
National Center for Youth Law provides resources to help guide federal lawmakers

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America has a problem with gun violence, and our children are caught in the crosshairs. As federal lawmakers work to address this deadly issue, it’s critical they prioritize the health and wellbeing of our nation's youth, and not invest in policies that will inflict further harm.

“The gun safety proposal making its way through Congress right now could change lives and profoundly benefit children, young people and communities across the country,” said Shakti Belway, deputy director of the National Center for Youth Law. “We encourage lawmakers to be bold and creative and to prioritize children’s wellbeing — to be the heroes that respond with action to the calls of children and youth in communities across this country. This involves seeking approaches that promote health while eliminating support for ineffective approaches that, year after year, have failed to keep students safe. Approaches such as school hardening, student surveillance, and police on campuses put all students at risk, and particularly children and communities of color.”

We believe that a crucial step in addressing gun violence in our country is to limit access to guns, now the leading cause of death for America's children. In doing so, lawmakers must move beyond the harmful responses of the past that have failed our nation’s children so many times, no matter how well-intentioned.

To aid lawmakers in crafting health-based policy, the National Center for Youth Law developed a reference sheet with considerations and recommendations for members of Congress. The document, which was sent to Congressional members this morning, calls for specific investments in mental health supports and measures to ensure that school safety plans prioritize the wellbeing of students.