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Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) was founded to protect all kids from shootings and violence in their schools, homes, and communities -- and this pandemic tested our organization and pushed us to find new ways to reach those in need. This 2021 Annual Report demonstrates SHP's impact, despite the seemingly endless challenges of the past year, we successfully saved lives and got kids the help they needed. And we will continue to do so every day until all children are free from shootings and acts of violence in their schools, homes, and communities.
This fact sheet lays out research-backed approaches for creating safer schools and ending gun violence. School leaders and policymakers must cultivate school environments that foster openness and safety for all students. This includes supporting and implementing strong gun safety laws and school-based interventions that can work to intervene in problems before shootings happen.
This report provides a deeper understanding of where, when, and how unintentional child shootings occur. And while the statistics are deeply distressing, the report also outlines the clear, effective steps we can take to save children and teen lives. This includes secure gun storage practices, public awareness campaigns, and laws proven to reduce unintentional injuries and deaths.
Chicago has seen continuing firearm violence, with over 2,000 shooting victims so far in 2021. The epidemic of firearm violence impacts children across the state, as it remains the number one cause of death in children and youth across Illinois. In some of our previous reports, Chicago parents identified gun violence as their top social concern for kids in the city, and in recent years, they reported it was the main social problem getting worse the fastest for Chicago youth. In this month's Voices of Child Health in Chicago Report, we focus on the importance of firearm safety and parents' concerns about gun violence in the city. We asked 1,505 Chicago parents from all 77 community areas in the city about their experiences with firearm safety as well as other gun violence prevention and concern-related questions.
Investing in young people should be a priority for cities as we begin on the path to COVID-19 recovery. Summer youth development and employment programs provide young people with educational and mentorship opportunities, prepare them for the workforce, add income to their homes, and are proven to reduce violence. Last year, as cities adapted to the public health and fiscal realities of COVID-19, many cities chose to pause or scale back programming that directly benefited Black and Latino communities. Among the impacted programs were summer youth engagement and employment initiatives. These programs are especially important because they not only provide economic opportunities for young people and their families, but they are also a demonstrated means of reducing gun violence.
The Children's Defense Fund has documented the devastating toll of gun violence on children for more than two decades. This new installment of Protect Children, Not Guns reveals our gun violence epidemic is growing larger and more deadly. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,410 children and teens were killed with guns in 2017—the greatest number since 1998
In 2014 the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) piloted a new approach to reducing violence and promoting safety among CPS students. The Connect & Redirect to Respect (CRR) program aims to keep students safe by using information gathered via social media to identify students engaging in risky behaviors—such as instigating conflict, signaling involvement in a gang, or brandishing a weapon—and connect them to a caring adult who seeks to understand their situation, help them navigate it, and connect them with services intended to keep them safe.This report is an evaluation of the effects of CRR. There is evidence that suggests once the program was fully implemented, students attending participating high schools were at lower risk of being shooting victims; experienced fewer misconduct incidents and out-of-school suspensions; and attended school for several additional days, relative to students in non-participating high schools. These findings suggest that CRR may be a promising approach to improving school and student safety.
Homicide is the leading cause of death for black boys and men ages 15 to 34 in Chicago, and the easy availability of guns is a contributing factor. To stem the tide of gun violence in Chicago, policymakers need more insight into why young adults carry guns and what might deter them from doing so. The Urban Institute, in partnership with community program providers, surveyed young adults living in Chicago's West and South Side neighborhoods with high rates of gun violence. This survey's purpose was to learn firsthand whether and why young adults in these neighborhoods carry guns, how they acquire firearms, how they experience gun violence and policing, and what they think could reduce gun carrying and promote safety.
School safety is an issue that policymakers have struggled to address for decades. Current federal policy provides an Unsafe School Choice Option that has been largely overlooked. States should ensure that implementation of the policy allows all students who are in unsafe environments to transfer to a safe and effective school. At the same time, state policymakers should immediately provide school choice options to children who are direct victims of school violence or bullying, and to those students in schools with a high rate of such victimization, through the introduction of "safe student" scholarships.
Young people in the United States bear the brunt of the nation's gun violence and are leading efforts to stop it.
This report covers topics such as victimization, teacher injury, bullying and cyberbullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, student perceptions of personal safety at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions. Indicators of crime and safety are compared across different population subgroups and over time. Data on crimes that occur away from school are offered as a point of comparison where available.
There is no question that people on all sides of the school safety conversation want to protect the nation's children against threats of violence, whether in the classroom or at home and in their neighborhoods. Statistically, there is no safer place for children to be than in our schools, but recent events at Parkland and elsewhere highlight significant concerns about the possibility of devastating attacks even in our educational institutions. We can and must do better to guard against future incidents of violence that threaten students, but peace of mind will not be restored by wholesale restrictions on gun ownership or vilification of fundamental constitutional rights. Devising and implementing effective measures will require clear-headed, open-minded, fact-based analyses of proposed policies.