Jhere’s some good news from city hall and the state capitol about how aurora, denver and much of the state will stop teens and young adults from killing and maiming themselves with fire arms.
Gov. Jared Polis and lawmakers from both parties agree that youth violence has become so severe and widespread that the state must step in and step up with the most important thing the legislature can offer, money.
Likewise, the city councils of Denver and Aurora have wisely agreed that youth violence and shootings cross the borders of these two cities every day. For this reason, a nascent regional effort to better understand the problem and address it has a real chance of making a difference in a crisis here, across the state, and across the country.
The scourge of shootings and lawlessness among teenagers and young adults is surprisingly widespread, deadly, pervasive and growing.
While there has in fact been bipartisan agreement in Aurora and at the state level, the first task for lawmakers must be to avoid and falsely call the issue onto politics.
Violence, and especially gun violence, is a growing problem in cities and states ruled by liberals and conservatives alike.
Aurora-Denver’s revamped Youth Violence Prevention Program is taking shape with promise. It invests millions of dollars in projects to ensure accurate and meaningful data is collected about Aurora’s children and that programs addressing the issues are data-driven.
But the YVPP effort has two fatal flaws that are routinely overlooked when it comes to addressing community issues that affect struggling children and families: schools and guns.
Everyone agrees that a big part of the problem in Aurora and Denver has to do with the fact that it’s incredibly cheap and easy for kids to get guns and ammunition. So-called “ghost guns,” sales in chat rooms, and thousands upon thousands of dangerously unsafe firearms in homes with young children and teens are a big part of the problem that conservative lawmakers are denying to admit or budge, and liberal lawmakers are reluctant to press acting on.
In addition, state and local officials regularly state how important it is for schools to be linked to programs that address youth violence and other issues, but these programs are almost always “bolt-on” ideas that don’t. involve schools only at a superficial level. or plug in outdoor programs into school spaces.
What state and local programs forget is that tens of thousands of area school employees have a front-row seat to see what’s really happening in children’s lives — every day, in real time. This is information that is rarely used and often glossed over because the “experts” know better.
Aurora and Denver schools are struggling with struggling children. The need is great for many more resources. Schools already have to deal with children who are not only about to become part of a gun violence event, but also those whose lives are so disrupted or turned upside down that their outbursts come from quite different types of violence – just as dangerous and sometimes just as deadly.
While Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek Schools have stepped up to create more opportunities for children to get the mental health care they need, it’s not enough.
Schools are the ideal conduit for quality child care for families who in the real world cannot afford it and cannot afford to stay at home.
And schools are the perfect place to start conversations about a true dual degree system that can launch kids into the world at 17 with a solid, real education, an employable skill they love, and the opportunity to pursue their study when and if they want.
For too many generations, millions of people have been the losers of an education system that insists that there is one size fits all and rarely fits all.
As many real experts have pointed out, we cannot control or stop our way out of this complicated and ever-present crisis. We need to do more and do something different.
Aurora’s and Denver’s efforts are good starting points, but unless schools are tied to the problem and fully funded to provide what’s needed, and until lawmakers tackle the problem. unlimited access to firearms for young people, Aurora can expect marginal results, more injuries and more deaths.
Aurora Sentinel Editorial Board