Aument vows to introduce bill to increase funding for schools & communities to improve access to mental health resources
(HARRISBURG) – In response to the tragic mass shooting in an Uvalde, Texas elementary school that left 19 children and 2 adults dead and many more wounded, State Senator Ryan Aument (R-36) released the following statement:
“In moments like these, it is sometimes hard to sufficiently express our feelings while respecting those so deeply impacted, and I felt like the first words that came to my mind were not adequate for the moment. After some prayer, time with family, and reflection on the horrific scene from Tuesday, I felt ready to share my thoughts.
“As the parent of two elementary school-aged children, I am horrified and deeply saddened by the news of the Robb Elementary School mass shooting. Every parent should be able to trust that their child will be safe within the walls of any public or private school in this country, but incidents like these rob us all of that sense of security. Like many parents, I hugged my children just a little tighter when I dropped them off at school this morning. I, along with every other American, mourn the tremendous loss of young life that occurred this week. My family and I will be praying for the families and loved ones of those impacted by this tragedy.
“Sadly, the profile of the 18-year-old who committed this heinous crime is not unfamiliar. He appears to have been a teenager from a broken home, bullied as a child, isolated and immersed in video games and virtual reality. Time and time again we see the consequences of a broken home, social alienation, and an undiagnosed or untreated mental illness. Never has the role of family, faith-based institutions, and community been more important.
“The nationwide increase of these violent incidents is something we as a country and as elected officials cannot ignore. And, as I’ve long argued, it’s not an issue that will be resolved by partisan bickering, finger pointing, or divisive tactics. Corrosive rhetoric from those in power seeks only to divide us for personal political gain and is not productive in resolving any of the challenges that confront us as a society. Our success depends on our ability to listen, seek understanding, and work together. Far more unites us than divides us.
“One such area that I believe we can reach consensus on is increased access to mental health resources for school students. While I am proud of the recent action the Pennsylvania General Assembly has taken to provide grant funding to schools to improve security measures and hire additional counselors, create a school threat reporting and monitoring system, and require regular assessments of school security protocols and safety trainings for school personnel – we are still hearing from school districts and communities that it isn’t enough.
“School districts and communities must have the resources necessary to offer adequate mental health services to their students, especially during the aftermath of negative unintended consequences stemming from the COVID-19 shutdowns and school closures that have only worsened student instances of mental health crises around the country. If we are to provide meaningful support to students, school districts, and communities in an effort to prevent further tragedies, I believe we must increase funding specifically for mental health services in schools.
“As I’ve said before, increasing access to vital mental health resources and highly qualified counselors to guide students through difficult moments will help target the root cause of this violence.
“At the end of the day, little else matters more to many of us than the overall wellbeing of our children. In moments like these where our sense of security is shaken by violence, I believe we must act on those solutions where consensus is possible. As such, I will be introducing a bill in the near future to accomplish this goal of increased funding to improve access to mental health resources in Pennsylvania schools and communities, and I will be advocating for its immediate inclusion in this year’s state budget.”
Sen. Aument Op-Ed: School Safety
Sen. Aument Op-Ed: Hate Only Thrives Where We Let It
PA Senate GOP Webpage: Senate Moves to Improve School Safety & Provide Districts More Resources, Options
CONTACT: Stephanie Applegate