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New campaign to encourage youth to turn from violence


Social media ads, in-school posters

A new campaign is designed to urge Los Angeles County high school students to raise a red flag if they witness disturbing or threatening behavior by a fellow student.

The initiative features social media ads and in-school posters encouraging students to contact the county’s School Threat Assessment Response Team -- START -- program if they suspect threats on campus.

“If one of our students witnesses something that doesn’t feel right, they need to know there is someone they can call who can step in and help,” Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn said in a statement.

“We are blanketing social media with these ads so we can reach as many LA County students as possible with this information.”

Created in 2009, the START program consists of mental health professionals who work with schools and law enforcement and respond to calls concerning behavior that could potentially lead to violence.

When contacted about a student who might pose a threat to themselves or others, the team comes in to assess the level of risk and provide targeted intervention to the student.

Up until now, however, START training and advertisements have been aimed at teachers, school administrators, and other school staff.

Studies have shown that many youth who commit acts of violence at school discuss or mention their plans beforehand, often on social media and to other students, according to the statement.

Targeted intervention can successfully prevent violence, and it is important that programs like START are informed about early warning signs, Hahn said.

This article is a part of a series of articles for Our Weekly’s #StopTheHate campaign and is supported in whole or part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library. #NoPlaceForHateCA,

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