PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Gun violence in schools was the topic of conversation as Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry came to town Friday. Attorney General Henry sat down with students from across Philadelphia to get their thoughts on what solutions need to be made.
Zahkir Williamson has seen gun violence first hand.
“I’ve been shot at two times in my life. So it really put a toll on me mentally,” Williamson said.
Other students like Kyla Early have been worried about gun violence on their route to school.
“Oh well I take that block to get on the subway to go home. So now it’s like I have to reroute my whole way home. I have to watch like extra close on my surroundings,” Early said.
Now they and nearly two dozen of their classmates are looking to do something about it.
On Friday, 22 Philadelphia public school students had a closed-door conversation to pitch solutions to Henry.
“What we can do as a community to better support them, to be there for them, to communicate with them, what changes we can make because they deserve that,” Henry said.
Students and leaders also put a focus on young people and access to guns. School district officials admit those guns are making their way into classrooms more often.
“That’s always been an issue, with access to guns. What’s happened now is we’ve had a significant increase in that activity,” Chief of School Safety for the Philadelphia School District Kevin Bethel said.
Bethel says the district is working on several initiatives to protect students going to and from school.
But more than guns, students wanted to focus on mental health and the aftermath of the violence. They say that starts with having open conversations.
“We always do need to talk about it regardless of how uncomfortable or comfortable you are with it. That’s with a lot of things. So I think instead of trying to graze over it, you have to take it for what it is,” Trinity Lewis, a student from Academy at Palumbo said.
“I really wanted them to understand the child’s point of view. Because as a kid, as a teenager, as a high school student, you get silenced a lot and not a lot of people listen to you,” Early said.
Henry says she plans to continue these conversations with students across the state. After that, she’ll issue a report with recommendations from those students.