New Illinois Laws Aim to Address Trauma and Mental Health in Schools

One law mandates school board members to receive training on trauma-informed practices that include “the effects of implicit or explicit bias on recognizing trauma."
Two High School Students Bored in Class
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(The Center Square) – A host of new laws go into effect in 2023 that will affect education in Illinois.

In the wake of school shootings across the country, there are measures to address trauma. One law mandates school board members to receive training on trauma-informed practices. 

Practices include “the effects of implicit or explicit bias on recognizing trauma among various students in connection with race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation,” among other things. 

State Sen. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, said there is also training for students, but they can’t include more graphic exercises involving police and weapons.

“Children are really having a lot of trauma, being fearful about going to school and having to go through one of these drills,” Villa said. 

A new law will revise school teaching about mental health, while creating a mental health council that is designed to develop solutions on how to help children in school to find a mental health provider and how to access the mental health system.  

Another law requires the state of Illinois to create a “Safe2Help” hotline where students, school staff and other members of the public can confidentially report information regarding “potential self-harm and criminal acts directed at students” and school employees.

A new measure allows every public middle or high school student to be provided at least one day of excused absence per school year to take part in a civic event.

To help alleviate the statewide substitute teaching shortage, a new law allows college students enrolled in an education-related field with at least 90 credit hours to start substitute teaching before they get their degree.

House Bill 5193 states that “safe gun storage” instruction must be added to the state’s safety education curriculum in “all grades.” The state’s current safety instruction covers topics like automobile safety, traffic regulations and the consequences of alcohol.                               

Another law adds penalties for motorists who break the law in school driving zones. This bill adds community service as a penalty for failing to stop for a school bus that is “receiving or discharging pupils and has displayed visual signals,” or for speeding in excess of 20 miles per hour or more in a school zone or while traveling on a roadway on public school property or where children pass to go to and from school.

Kevin Bessler
Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.

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