New Study on Gun Violence near D.C. Schools

An alarming new study released by the Urban Institute last week showed that 54 percent of D.C. public and charter schools had at least one gunshot fired within 1,000 feet of the school during the 2011-12 year. Nearly half of those gunfire incidents took place near just nine percent of schools.

Of course, gun violence occurs in schools, too. Between late 2012 and June 2014, there have been 41 deaths in 62 documented incidents at U.S. schools. The frequency of attacks has increased since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 people were killed by gunfire.

Gun violence was a topic of utmost importance to our 2012 Student Ambassador Je’Von Russell. He wrote a poignant essay about it, bringing a human face to the statistics. His essay began:

“Over the years, I have lost many friends and nearly lost family members because of gang violence. I have been to a few funerals of friends who were shot and killed simply because of where they live. Some of my others friends have been shot, but thankfully survived. Gang violence has an especially big impact on Washington, DC. Young African Americans today are dying because of where they live or what hood they claim they are from. People should feel safe walking around their city. Young people shouldn’t have to fear losing their life when they leave their home.”

When given the opportunity to select the topic they will write about, our students routinely pick challenging, timely, and important topics like gun violence, teen pregnancy, and bullying. Not only do the students become more educated about issues they care about by conducting research, but they also learn how to make an argument and write clearly. The essays of our Student Ambassadors, like Je’Von, then live on in the lesson plans of teachers, and their words help others students learn how to write.

Students also have the opportunity to provide their ideas for solutions. Je’Von ended his essay with this:

“There should be a lot more activities at schools for the students so they can stay out of trouble and stay on the right track. I don’t want any of my friends, family members, or anybody to be part of those statistics on violence. I want to be a part of the statistics about young African American males going to college and doing good with my life.”

We wish that for him, too.

Add new comment