By Lorelei Olivas
PHILADELPHIA, PA – At a meeting at Mary McLeod Bethune School in North Philadelphia, students, educators, law enforcement, and city officials discussed how to address the threat of violence in the community and how to keep schools a safe haven for children.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, District Attorney Larry Krasner, and Mayor Jim Kenney were among the city officials present at the convention.
“While we advocate and take action to get guns off our streets, we will also continue to work with law enforcement and school district partners to create – and protect – safe and supportive spaces where children can learn and grow,” Mayor Kenney said.
The meeting focused on the disproportionate violence that affects Black and Brown communities, as well as the health concerns that students face in school.
“Teenagers know what’s going on around them. Without a space to talk about the issues that plague our communities and our society, teens and children harbor their feelings of fear and hopelessness,” Cayla Waddington said, who is a 10th grader at Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter.
Other students explained how they feel safe at school, but unsafe in their own communities.
“Even though I feel safe in school, I don’t feel safe around my school. Just around the corner, eight murders have happened to students my age and it’s not right,” Herman Andino, an 8th grader at Bethune, said.
City officials stated that they will continue to try and make schools safe places for students and educators, while also focusing on the surrounding communities.
No clear plan of action was stated at this time.