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Denver Communities Aim To Address Roots Of Gun Violence

Denver-area communities are investing in programs to prevent youth gun violence as shootings have scarred the area, Courthouse News reports. Two years ago, six teenagers were shot and wounded in a drive-by attack in Aurora, Colo., at a park close to a high school. In response, the city council and police department looked into youth violence prevention, with the city council distributing $800,000 in community grants for programs aimed at reducing youth gun violence. These efforts represent a new push in Aurora and across the nation, as officials take aim at the root causes of violence, like poverty and despair, in an effort to curb youth gun deaths. In Denver, organizations are trying out a range of approaches. The Sims-Fayola Foundation, for example, says gun violence prevention means supporting young men “from cradle to career.” 

At the south end of Nome Park, where the 2021 shooting occurred, two young Black women swapped stories. “At this point it happens so often that, like, it just is what it is,” said Asher, 17. “There's so many stories of teenagers dying, either from police officers or other teens or grown adults trying to kill these kids. Suicide is a big part of gun violence as well.” Unstable environments, stress and institutional racism drive gun violence, she said. Asher is not all wrong about the root causes of gun violence. Academic research points to broad societal trends that make teens more likely to take up arms, from exposure to gun violence to living in poverty. Experts say policymakers have focused too much on symptoms over causes. Ongoing research continues to develop the best reporting systems and active shooter training for schools, but there has been little evidence to show clear backpacks, security cameras, metal detectors or arming teachers make students safer.


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