SAN DIEGO (CNS) - City officials, public mental health experts and the head of the Board of Education Tuesday called for a comprehensive plan for reducing youth violence, including expanded mental health screenings and support for renewing a federal ban on the sale of semiautomatic rifles classified as assault weapons.
"It is not enough to physically secure our school sites. It is not enough to restrict the types of weapons and it is not enough to only focus on mental health," said John Lee Evans, the president of San Diego Unified School District's Board of Education and also psychologist. "We need to do all of them."
At its 5 p.m. meeting Tuesday, board members will consider a resolution made in response to recent mass shootings. It suggests the school district partnering with the San Diego Psychological Association to train school employees to recognize students with "potential violent tendencies and or signs of isolation that could signal a need for intervention."
If approved, the training would initially be rolled out at a few high schools and later be expanded, he said.
According to school district police Chief Rueben Littlejohn, reports of attempted suicide, suicide threats and reports of mental illness rose by 46 percent during the 2012-13 school year compared to the previous year.
San Diego police are working with school police "to make sure our most precious commodity in the city of San Diego are safe and well," Chief William Lansdowne said.
Mayor Bob Filner expressed optimism about the effort. "All the psychological and mental health resources that we have are to get at the roots of the problem - to get at young kids who are facing problems, so they grow up with a much more social view of the world and of themselves, a much more sense of who they are and the confidence they can be something without a gun in their hand," Filner said.
City Councilman David Alvarez said a resolution in support of a assault weapons ban was in the works.