It’s hard to believe summer is almost over. In many places, the weather was so mild it seems like it never quite started. But kids are already going back to school.
While the weather has been cool, temperatures have reached a boiling point on many of our nation’s streets. In many communities, violence is very much on people’s minds as kids return to school, following incidents like the rash of shootings in Chicago over the July 4th weekend and the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Last week, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership teamed up with Generation Progress, The League of Young Voters Education Fund, the Million Hoodies Movement, and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans to hold a Twitter town hall with the hashtag #Back2SaferSchools. Generation Progress kicked things off with this sobering thought:
Q1: In 2015, gun violence will be leading cause of death for Millennials. What can communities do to ensure students go #Back2SaferSchools?
— Generation Progress (@genprogress) August 20, 2014
There are many ways to address this problem. But as Keith Benjamin of the SRTS National Partnership says, “Place-making plays a pivotal role in combating violence.”
Late last year, the Partnership released “Using Safe Routes to School to Combat the Threat of Violence” [PDF]. It weaves together in-school conflict resolution programs and anti-bullying work with the group’s regular program of walking school buses and infrastructure improvements.
“In some communities, the danger of violence and crime discourages children from walking to school and keeps people off the street, limiting physical activity and restricting errands and trips,” the report begins.