Young people call for a “real plan” that goes beyond gun control and doesn’t turn schools into fortresses
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Inspired by the “Demand a Plan” video (www.DemandaPlan.org) released today by Hollywood luminaries, California youth have come together to demand a “real plan” to keep schools and communities safe.
In a 60-second video 33 California young people say more guns are not the answer to keeping schools safe. “Don’t lock down our schools,” said one teenager in the video. “A solid plan doesn’t begin and end with who has access to guns and how many police officers we have,” said David Valdez, Director of the Youth Institute at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA, who helped coordinate production of the video.
“Students want schools to be safe,” said Valdez. “But they are wary of solutions that only call for more police in schools. Instead, they’re calling for more school counselors, mentors, health services on school campuses, and other approaches that help young people in need of support.”
An average of 14 young people are murdered every day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a U.S. Department of Justice report released last week found that two out of three American youth experienced violence in the last year.
As one teenager said in the video, “That’s insane.”
“Arming schools to the teeth is not the answer,” said Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment.
“We need to prevent these problems before they happen, and that means a coordinated approach that includes a more sensible gun policy as well as more mental health services, more school counselors, and collaboration with law enforcement and other social service agencies for early identification and assessment of people who might pose threats to school and community safety. We all have a role to play in encouraging people to seek help when they need it.”
The youth who took part in the video are leaders in The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, which focuses on improving neighborhood and school environments. Research has shown that these environments play the largest role in health and safety. More than 20,000 Californians from underserved communities took part in local meetings to identify the most important health issues they face, and community violence was the top concern.
“We say ‘Health Happens Here’ because we know that health goes beyond the doctor’s office,” Ross said. “We need a real national dialogue about how to keep schools and communities safe, and young people everywhere need to be part of the conversation. If we listen to them, we’ll find that they have the answers.”