East Excessive summit: College students ask for solutions to gun violence — science weblog

Every week after tons of of Denver’s East Excessive Faculty college students marched to the state Capitol protesting the taking pictures demise of their classmate, a smaller crowd at a student-organized summit requested native officers for options to gun violence. 

“We shouldn’t need to be right here,” sophomore Gracie Taub, a member of the membership East College students Demand Motion, informed the gang. “Luis needs to be right here.”

Sixteen-year-old East Excessive scholar and soccer participant Luis Garcia was shot simply outdoors the college on Feb. 13 and died from his accidents 2½ weeks later. Denver Public Faculties Superintendent Alex Marrero stated on the summit that the incident was not the primary occasion of gun violence in and round Denver’s colleges this faculty yr, nor the final.

“It’s not as a result of our hallways are threatening,” Marrero stated. “It’s not as a result of our educators are monsters. It’s not what’s occurring in our colleges. It’s what’s occurring in our neighborhood.”

The 14 panelists, who additionally included two Denver metropolis council members, two state lawmakers, three medical medical doctors, three violence prevention consultants, East Excessive Principal Terita Walker, and Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas, agreed that limiting younger individuals’s entry to weapons needs to be a part of the answer. Mother and father and members of the family must lock up weapons at dwelling, they stated. 

State Sen. Chris Hansen and state Rep. Alex Valdez, each Denver Democrats, referenced different payments that Colorado lawmakers are contemplating this yr, together with one to require a three-day ready interval for gun purchases, one elevating the age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21, and one so as to add lecturers to the listing of people that can request somebody be banned from proudly owning a gun.

However panelists additionally agreed that it’s going to take greater than legal guidelines to curb youth gun violence.

“Violence is all the time going to exist,” stated Felicia Rodriguez, youth violence prevention program supervisor for town’s Workplace of Kids’s Affairs. “I feel an important factor that everybody has been expressing right here this night is the significance of constructing wholesome, optimistic relationships with youth. That’s the impression, from an grownup lens, that we have to actually concentrate on.”

Johnathan McMillan, the director of the Colorado Workplace of Gun Violence Prevention, stated younger individuals who have a trusted grownup of their life are much less more likely to be impacted by violence, “whether or not that’s a legislation enforcement officer, a instructor, a counselor, a principal, a neighborhood member.”

The Denver faculty board voted in 2020 to take away cops from Denver colleges. East Excessive was certainly one of 18 colleges that had an armed officer on the time. Requested whether or not police ought to have a bigger presence in Denver colleges once more, each the superintendent and police chief stated the reply ought to come from the scholars.

“If the youth and the mother and father of those youth which are going to those colleges really feel like the answer to having safer colleges is to have officers in these colleges, then actually that’s one thing I’ll adjust to, actually with the college board’s path,” Chief Thomas stated. 

“However I don’t suppose that the police are the one answer.”

Dr. Joseph Simonetti, a doctor and researcher on the College of Colorado who focuses on firearm damage prevention, stated having police on campus can result in a rise in scholar arrests and tickets. Previous to the elimination of faculty useful resource officers, knowledge confirmed that Black college students in Denver had been disproportionately ticketed and arrested. Since SROs had been eliminated, knowledge exhibits fewer Denver college students have been referred to legislation enforcement.

The panelists additionally known as for extra funding in youth psychological well being providers. Dr. Steven Federico, a pediatrician who serves because the chief authorities and neighborhood affairs officer for Denver Well being, stated that though the variety of Denver Well being clinics inside colleges has grown over time, the necessity for psychological well being providers is “insatiable.”

“It’s the primary requested service of our medical groups,” he stated. “It must be higher funded. It must be higher staffed.”

Regardless of the options, Walker, the principal, stated they should come rapidly.

“The dream for me is, for the children I’m searching at proper now and the children which are doing this work, the immediacy across the response in order that they’ll profit from and really feel the results of the work that they’re doing,” she stated. “We don’t need one other child to be affected.”

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, protecting Denver Public Faculties. Contact Melanie at masmar@chalkbeat.org.

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