April 22, 2021

Gun Violence In Communities Affects Kids. Activists Say Schools Play A Key Role To Help

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Members of the student-led group We Live Indy gathered at the Statehouse on Saturday March 2, 2019, calling for action on universal background checks. - FILE PHOTO: Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Members of the student-led group We Live Indy gathered at the Statehouse on Saturday March 2, 2019, calling for action on universal background checks.

FILE PHOTO: Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Last week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis – and recent news of violence against Black youth at the hands of police – has left many communities reeling.

One Indianapolis-based activist focused on ending violence among young people said schools need to better address trauma stemming from gun violence and racism.

Brandon Warren is the CEO and founder of We LIVE – a group dedicated to ending youth violence. He founded the nonprofit as a high schooler after his friend Dijon Anderson was shot and killed in 2017. Since then, he and other members of the group have helped organize several events to highlight the issue of gun violence in communities and schools, including a rally at the Statehouse coinciding with the national March For Our Lives event in 2018. 

Warren said shootings in Indianapolis – combined with cases of police violence against Black and Brown young people – are triggering. He said to disrupt the cycle, it's vital to address the trauma it causes, and schools are one of the most obvious places to do it.

"Who has the most access to our young people collectively? That's schools," he said.

Warren said exposure to media coverage of other traumatizing events – like the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who murdered George Floyd – also contribute to young people feeling unsafe in their own community. 

"Automatically you feel attacked, you feel judged, you feel looked at differently, so this could cause numerous issues," he said. 

Warren said the needs of kids in high school have changed since he graduated, but right now he doesn't see them receiving enough support. 

"I feel like right now the kids around this city are lacking the opportunities to really speak for themselves and declare what's a need for them," he said. 

Warren said a good place for schools to start is by reaching out to organizations like his that can help build up platforms for more kids to speak out, and having more uncomfortable – but necessary – conversations about the role racism plays in violence against Black and Brown communities.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

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