Could After-School Programs Reduce Gun Violence? | #schoolsaftey


In 2021, a report by Pennsylvania’s Joint State Government Commission calculated that for every dollar the state spent on extracurricular programs for public schools, it would get about $6.69 back, based on the potential for positive outcomes for students. The return on investment went up to between $7 and $10 when looking at crime prevention programs, according to another estimate cited in the research. But the authors pointed out a problem: Pennsylvania doesn’t fund out-of-school programs, and an influx of federal cash — designated to help students academically recover from the coronavirus lockdown period — meant to support such programs is set to run out in 2024.

The problem isn’t unique to Pennsylvania. Districts across the country are struggling to operate after-school programs because of reduced capacity, staffing shortages, and piecemeal funding. Research shows that these programs have great potential to reduce violent crime among young people — which, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, peaks in the late afternoon, usually just after the end of the school day.

The scramble to fund out-of-school programs comes amid a disturbing rise in the number of people under 18 who have killed someone with a firearm — and as shootings appear to be increasingly taking place just outside school grounds. In Baltimore, the number of shootings that occurred within one block of a city high school skyrocketed in the 2022-2023 academic year. Officials in Portland, Oregon, called for a heightened focus on gun violence interruption after a series of shootings near high schools in the fall of 2022. The Philadelphia Inquirer found that between September 2017 and September 2022, almost a quarter of shooting victims were fired on within 400 feet of a Philly school.

In Chicago, the number of students who were shot and killed near a school after dismissal spiked last year. As The Trace’s Rita Oceguera reported this week, the city and local organizers have made significant efforts to provide young people with programming during the summer, when gun violence peaks, and the results have been promising. Come fall, though, many of those programs end. Young people told Oceguera they want more accessible and effective programming — throughout the year. “We not just youth in the summertime,” said 23-year-old Tyree Belfield. “Life goes on around the year.”

This Week From The Trace

Chicago Youth Programs Often End With the Summer. Young People Want More.
Events meant to provide a safety net for young Chicagoans often end in the fall.

A Stray Bullet Struck Her Sister. Now, Her Violence Prevention Work Includes the Man Who Fired the Gun.
The day Shneaqua Purvis lost her sister changed the direction of her life.

How Do We Remember People Lost to Gun Violence?
The politics of memory are central to art therapist Rochele Royster, whose Dolls4Peace project celebrates the lives of those shot and killed in Chicago.

What to Know This Week

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in U.S. v. Rahimi, the case that will determine if the government can ban domestic abusers from possessing guns, in November, according to a calendar released this week. The litigation is widely seen as a test of the court’s 2022 Bruen decision, which opened the door for challenges to gun restrictions nationwide. [Bloomberg Law] 

The U.S. government may have won an important battle in its campaign to prevent automatic conversion devices from hitting the market: A federal judge agreed to issue an injunction blocking gun company Rare Breed Triggers from selling “forced reset triggers,” which can enable rifles to fire faster than military-grade M16 machine guns. [Reuters] 

The Justice Department’s special counsel investigating Hunter Biden announced plans to indict the president’s son on a gun charge by the end of this month. The charge stems from the younger Biden’s purchase of a gun while he was struggling to recover from a crack cocaine addiction. [The New York Times] 

The Crow Creek Nation has been struggling for months to counter a string of violence in their community, with little help from the Department of the Interior and numerous barriers to policing their land. After Garrett Hawk was shot and killed in July, the tribe took matters into its own hands, assembling and training a group of Crow Creek members to patrol the reservation at night. [ICT and Rapid City Journal] 

The suicide rate among young Black people rose nearly 150 percent from 2007 to 2020, according to a new report by researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Gun Violence Solutions. The study found that Black LGBTQ+ youth are particularly at risk. [The Baltimore Banner] 

Storing firearms for people going through a crisis can significantly reduce suicide risk, by way of putting time and space between a person and their gun. In Montana, which has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, lawmakers approved liability protections for people who store guns for others — but there are still legal and social hurdles to making the practice commonplace. [Montana Public Radio]  

The Biden administration announced its proposal to broadly expand background checks for gun sales, leveraging a piece of last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to close a loophole that exempts private sellers from conducting checks. [NBC] 

Tennessee state Representative Gloria Johnson, one of the Democratic lawmakers reprimanded for participating in a gun violence protest on the House floor earlier this year, is running for U.S. Senate. Johnson is taking on Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, who has represented the deep-red state since winning her seat in 2018. [NBC]

In Memoriam

Bryant Robinson, 36, never met a stranger. He could “make you feel as though he’s known you his whole life,” one friend told WXII, “even if he only knew you for five seconds.” Robinson was shot and killed in Axton, Virginia, last weekend, about half an hour away from his home in Stoneville, North Carolina. He was an adventurer: An avid traveler, Robinson loved hiking and the outdoors, per his obituary, and at one point worked at American Airlines. He appreciated art, music, and cinema — and while he loved horror movies, Robinson’s favorite film was The Little Mermaid. He was a passionate advocate for gay and women’s rights. But above all, loved ones said, Robinson made the world a brighter place, with his warm personality and devoted friendship. He “had a heart for everyone,” a former boss wrote in a tribute. “He loved and was loved by many.”

We Recommend

The People vs. Rubber Bullets
“U.S. law enforcement has used kinetic impact projectiles for more than 50 years, promoting them as life-saving alternatives to deadly force. But the munitions also carry a legacy of traumatic brain injuries, blindings, PTSD, and even deaths. Now after a recent, staggering surge in the use of less-lethal weapons, victims are making a powerful case against them.” [Long Lead]

Pull Quote

“We feel like justice isn’t happening, we feel unheard. To be able to say that out loud meant a lot.”

— Shaynna Wounded Knee, whose cousin Garrett Hawk was shot and killed on Crow Creek land in July, on speaking about Hawk’s death before members of the Not Invisible Act Commission, to ICT and Rapid City Journal



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