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Gun Violence Epidemic Challenges Local Anticrime Efforts

Gun violence is especially lethal for young people. 2020 became the first year in which gun violence was the leading cause of death for children and teens, reports Chalkbeat. Young black men have the greatest risk of being fatally shot. From 1992 to 2019, less than three percent of youth homicides occurred on school grounds. Exposure to violence has been associated with trauma symptoms, including anxiety, and disruptions with sleep and concentration. One study found that students perform worse on reading tests after a murder occurred in their neighborhood, even if they did not witness it themselves. "No way somebody is going to be able to pull off the same level of cognitive performance... if they have that running through their minds," said Daniel Semenza, a researcher from Rutgers University.


In an effort to intervene to stop community violence, local groups from Newark have pressured the city to help protect young people. They do this in two ways: addressing the underlying causes of violent behavior and shielding students from violent acts. The Newark Community Street Team operates a Safe Passage Program, which hires community members to patrol routes students take to and from school. The Street Team also offers counseling and life-skills training to young people at risk of violence, while another program, the HUBB, provides art therapy and mentoring. A number of studies show that local anti-violence groups play a significant role in reducing shootings and improving public safety.

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