The first meeting of a new anti-violence task force focused on the need to identify mental health issues. State Rep. Greg Harris says the goal of this new task force is to prevent what happened at places like Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School, not just react to violence after it’s occurred. “We need to look forward, learn, and hopefully, never have to look back here in the state of Illinois,” Harris said.
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One of the speakers at the first hearing of the task force was Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner, president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, who said mental health issues need to be identified very early in a child’s life.
“It is, of course, most common to think about violence prevention when children are large and dangerous,” Rauner said, “but the reality is that the seeds of resilience and of quality mental and social emotional development are laid in the very, very first years of life.” The task force will now work in smaller groups looking at violence prevention possibilities. It doesn’t have any set deadline to report back to the General Assembly.