An & Approach to School Violence and Prevention | #schoolsaftey

Moderated by Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., Executive Vice President of Health Sciences at Michigan State University, the panel included:

  • Steven Hinkley, Sheriff, Calhoun County
  • Alyse Ley, Co-director, Prevent 2 Protect and Oakland County Gun Violence Commission
  • Frank Straub, Co-director, Prevent 2 Protect; Senior Director, Violence Prevention Research and Programs, Safe and Sound Schools

In February 2023, Michigan State University was the site of a mass shooting resulting in the loss of three lives. At the 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference, Michigan State University and additional stakeholders shared details about the Prevent 2 Protect project, an innovative, collaborative pilot program designed to respond to the issue of target violence and mass shootings.

Rema Vassar, Chair of the Board of Trustees from Michigan State University, delivered opening remarks at the informational presentation. Immediately following, Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., Executive Vice President of Health Sciences at Michigan State University, began the conversation focused on preventing and addressing school violence in Michigan.

“Part of the purpose today is to bring attention to this work, and when we think about a conference that is about policy, something that affects lives, there is nothing more important than addressing what is now the number one cause of death for people under 18, for our children, and for our future,” said Beauchamp.

Made possible by the Michigan Department of Education School Aid Budget, the session shared the specifics of Prevent 2 Protect, the five-year pilot program that creates an evidence-based, pragmatic approach of collaboration between psychiatry, education, law enforcement, and the community focused on preventing targeted violence.

Co-director of Prevent 2 Protect, Alyse Ley, outlined the detailed approach with Michigan State University acting as the hub using a four-pillar approach focused on evidence-based intervention, consultation, education, and continued research.

“We know, and we feel, that if we are able to look at prevention, instead of just preparing, we may be able to stop what’s going on, or least intervene in some meaningful way to prevent the next attack and keep our children safe in schools,” Ley stated.

According to Calhoun County Sherrif, Steven Hinkley, he often must enter students into the justice system to access the necessary health services they need.

He said, “we have to have a foundational solution that everybody can draw into where there is not only one organization able to provide support.”

Frank Straub, co-director of Prevent 2 Protect, shared that because of the fractured system with silos and lack of long-haul support, children fall through the cracks with little if any, good physical and mental health care, and school and graduation assistance, which impacts their life trajectories.

“Our program is about that – filling those gaps and not letting those young individuals or caregivers fall through into cracks because either the systems don’t work or they can’t navigate the system, or there is simply no one there to hold their hands and help them,” said Straub.

Regional intensive support teams will provide resources like a case manager and mentor, which create and implement individualized care plans to support not only the patient, but also caretakers and families. The goal of the program is to create a scalable model that can be implemented state and nationwide.

Additionally, video remarks were delivered by Michele Gay, co-founder, Safe and Sound Schools and parent of a Sandy Hook Elementary School Student, and U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin.

Slotkin is the only member of the House of Representatives to have experienced two school shootings in her district – Oxford High School in 2021 and Michigan State University in 2023, resulting in the loss of seven lives.

“This joint project between the Department of Psychiatry at Michigan State University and Safe and Sounds Schools is the perfect example of the type of collaboration that we need to tackle the very complicated issue of violence in our schools in and in our community”

This Mackinac Policy Conference session was sponsored by Michigan State University. 

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