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Sense of Belonging Key to Feeling Safe in Schools


The Executive Director of the Kentucky Psychological Association says two new House bills introduced this week could make Kentucky the leader in the country for making schools safer. 

“Absolutely the most protective factor for school safety issues is for students to have a sense of belonging in their school.” 

Lisa Willner is the executive director of the Kentucky Psychological Association and an elected school board member in Jefferson County. She says the bills go hand in hand in creating “...a school with a positive climate where it feels like they are part of a community and they feel like they have a role to play in the school.” 

Democratic Representative Will Coursey introduced House Bill 604, which would require schools to hire mental health professionals to support students and staff and to guide violence-prevention efforts by the start of the next school year. Coursey’s district includes Marshall County - where a school shooting occurred in January. Democratic Representative Ruth Ann Palumbo filed House Bill 538, requiring mental health screenings for students in conjunction with immunizations.

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