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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Colorado Looks to Broaden Therapists' Power to Prevent School Shootings

by Dan Frosch
The Wall Street Journal
Originally published March 6, 2016

In a state that has been battered by mass shootings, Colorado lawmakers are trying a new, focused approach to stopping bloodshed in schools.

A proposed bill would broaden the circumstances under which mental-health professionals can report a student that they believe poses a threat, an issue that has drawn increasing attention around the country

Colorado law requires mental-health workers to alert authorities if a patient expresses a specific, imminent threat, and mandates that they warn those being threatened.

The proposal would permit therapists to alert school administrators about a potentially dangerous student even if that danger isn't immediate. It would apply to all public and private schools, as well as institutes of postsecondary education. Counselors who are school district employees are already permitted such latitude under federal law, but many schools contract with outside mental health workers to treat students, and some students are in private therapy as well, experts said.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, sailed through Colorado's House of Representatives last month by a vote of 51-12. It now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to have the backing of members of both parties.

The article is here.