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Teachers union wants more mental health professionals in schools

Posted at 7:18 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-16 19:19:59-05

Teachers devastated after Wednesday's Parkland shooting. A teacher in Port Charlotte says enough is enough.

"It's one of those things where you want to start crying and you want to start making and shaking people to start making things happen," said Bryan Bouton, a teacher at Port Charlotte High School.

Bouton is also a teachers union representative in Charlotte county. He's concerned with the number of school shootings this year alone.

"18 since the first of the year. It happens too regularly," said Bouton.

He also wants lawmakers to take a look at the number of victims mass shootings have claimed.

"33 kids at Virginia Tech, 12 kids killed at Columbine, 23 killed in Connecticut, and 17 people killed in Parkland," said Bouton.

The teachers union tries to get help from state legislators in Tallahassee as well as help from the federal government. Bouton doesn't think the solution is to arm teachers.

"Arm me with school social workers than can work with these kids. Arm me with school counselors who can do more than just fix schedules," he added.

Bouton told 4 In Your Corner public schools are funded at 2007 levels. The lack of funds makes schools more vulnerable.

"It's hard to recruit and retain teachers much less recruit and retain school social workers, and behavior specialists, psychologists when you don't have money to hire them," said Bouton.

4 In Your Corner reached out to local representatives.

Congressman Francis Rooney's office said over the last two years, Congress has passed several bills to help schools.

Some of these laws  train law enforcement on the best methods of how to respond to active shooter situations.

Congressman Rooney wrote about another recent law aimed to increase funds to train teachers, EMS, and other professionals on how to intervene before someone with a mental illness experiences a crisis.

He also cited a law meant to reauthorize programs that focus on early treatment of children with severe emotional issues.

Congressman Rooney said he will continue to support programs to help schools including more mental health treatment and prevention, and increased security in schools.