In the past week, St. Louis has received national attention over the fatal shootings of at least a dozen children in the city since April. Many of these children were shot near their homes, including one who accessed an unsecured gun and unintentionally shot themselves. All were Black children younger than 17 years old.
Local organizations in St. Louis are working to prevent gun violence like the kind that ended the lives of these children and so many others within the city. These include:
- Better Family Life, a local nonprofit making that uses de-escalation to intervene in the community before interpersonal feuds become deadly. Since December 2016, they have intervened in 60 conflicts and successfully calmed 56.
- Washington University’s Gun Violence Initiative, a Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program that treats gun violence as a public health issue. Learn more about how Missouri can support survivors of gun violence here.
Additionally, St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson recently approved emergency funding to launch a Cure Violence program in the city in response to the recent shootings. Cure Violence, a program that treats gun violence as a public health crisis, works to interrupt violence and transform community norms around violence. In the neighborhoods where the strategy has been implemented, Cure Violence programs have been shown to reduce shootings by up to 63 percent.
Currently, the state of Missouri has $70 million of Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Assistance funding available for victims’ service providers in the state, including providers that work with survivors of gun violence. VOCA Assistance grants are a potential source of funding for organizations in St. Louis that are working to support victims of gun violence and break the cycle of violence.
Firearms are the leading cause of death for Black children and teens in America. Black and Brown children experience gun violence more than white children, in part due to deliberate policy decisions that created segregated neighborhoods and underinvestments in their communities. And children and teens who live in cities are at a significantly higher risk of gun homicides and assaults compared to their peers in rural areas.
Finally, more information about preventing gun violence in cities is available here. If you have additional questions, or to arrange an interview, please don’t hesitate to reach out.