Lawmakers look to make schools safer

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — In the wake of the massacre in Newtown, CT and the NY SAFE act, WNY state lawmakers are looking at ways to increase school safety. But there are no easy answers.

Daniel Jones is a Niagara Falls police detective who specializes in youth intervention. His job while at Niagara Falls High School is to help students deal with their issues before they escalate out of control.

"A lot of times out here kids having problems at home. And a lot of times I'll assist the parent and the child," Det. Jones explained.

State lawmakers are being urged to fully fund school resource officers and find better ways to reach out to students with psychiatric problems.

Jane Burzynski of the Erie County Association of School Boards said, "It's not just the uniform and the gun. It's the relationships that they're able to build. It's the awareness of issues."

After the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, some gun advocates said teachers should be armed. That wasn't the sentiment at Wednesday's hearing.

Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak said, "You've heard it said the best option for a bad guy in school with a gun is a good guy in school with a gun. I don't necessary subscribe with that."

Experts say there needs to be better coordination between the schools, outside mental health agencies and law enforcement, in order to address the needs of deeply troubled students. But schools can sometimes be the first to intervene.

Dr. Peter Faustino of the National Association of School Psychologist said, "Finding ways to fund and increase the number of people that are in schools to help kids is probably the biggest one, and then reducing the mental health stigma around all these things is critical to lining up and making sure that those students, the vast percentage of students who don't seek help, get it."

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