Last week’s feature report discussed The Iceberg Effect, a recent study examining factors that influence education but often remain unmentioned and unmeasured. We learned, for example, that the United States has three times more violent deaths than the other eight nations studied. Another study, released at the close of 2014, focused specifically on gun violence. (See Everytown for Gun Safety)
The Everytown Analysis of School Shootings found 94 such incidents since the Sandy Hook, CT, mass shooting in December 2012: 44 took place on college campuses, and 50 at K-12 schools. Foreshadowing the publication cited above, the Everytown Analysis adds: “When it comes to American children being exposed to gunfire, these shootings are just the tip of the iceberg. A recent report by the Urban Institute showed that in just a single school district, Washington, DC, there were at least 336 gunshots in the vicinity of schools over just a single school year.”
These facts of life affect students in a number of ways, including a phenomenon known as “toxic stress,” in which sustained levels of trauma actually alter brain architecture.
Al Jazeera America began a seven-part series on Guns in Schools this past Monday.
The series launched with a review of gun control measures in the U.S. since Sandy Hook. Despite national paralysis, Naureen Khan reports, “a flurry of activity has taken place at the state level,” both strengthening and weakening controls.
In a second article, Natasja Sheriff looks at reduced federal and state-level spending for school violence prevention initiatives and for school counselors.
In a third installment, Ashley Cleek explores the affect of security measures themselves on students. Child psychologists suggest that young people feel less safe as schools become more militarized and prompt hypervigilance on the part of students.
Al Jazeera America continues to explore this topic from many different perspectives.
Washington, Chicago, and Beyond
Meanwhile, Washington, DC, lost three young people to gun violence this month – with 17- and 22-year-old men killed just down Martin Luther King Avenue from this studio and additional non-fatal shootings in that area. In response, a standing-room-only crowd participated in a “Community Conversation on Violence” last week, identifying problems, brainstorming solutions, and beginning an action plan. A special report outlines suggestions from both IN- and OUTside that gathering.
Finally, today is the second death anniversary of Hadiya Pendleton. The 15-year-old Chicago scholar and drill-team member had recently returned to her hometown (and this author’s) after participating in Obama’s second inaugural parade, when she was killed in her local public park.
Hadiya’s parents founded an organization to work in her name for needed changes. Hadiya’s Promise is now working in coalition with 250 organizations to promote a multi-faceted approach known as the Youth PROMISE – Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education – Act. The Youth P.R.O.M.I.S.E. Act has been proposed in both the House and the Senate. Amnesty International is helping to mount a campaign urging passage.
In addition to reading the various reports highlighted here, please share YOUR ideas for helping young people survive and thrive. Use the comment section below, and propose future show topics through our Contact Form.
— with prayers for real change SOON,
Virginia Spatz, feature reporter
(more thoughts on Hadiya and youth needs)