Philly students, teachers say more counselors needed to deal with trauma from gun violence

One year ago, the Parkland, Florida, shooting brought more attention to the issue.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Thursday marks one year since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 people and set off a wave of activism across the country. Students called for more gun control and safer schools.

Young people in Philadelphia and other urban areas seized the opportunity to bring long-awaited attention to gun violence and trauma that affects them on a regular basis.

But some activists, students, and teachers say that one year later, not much has changed in the way of investments to fully address students’ needs.

Ismael Jimenez, a teacher at Kensington CAPA High School, was one of six panelists at a discussion forum on gun violence and trauma in schools and communities. The forum, on Sunday evening, was hosted by the Caucus of Working Educators at Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia.

“The hope is that we can really start a real conversation that can be extended into future activities and collaboration with folks that are really into changing the circumstances that produce so much trauma in our society,” said Jimenez, a member of the group.

The number of people shot in Philadelphia rose 10 percent in 2018 to 1,376, according to data from The Philadelphia Inquirer. About 10 percent of victims were under age 18, and almost 40 percent were between 18 and 25.

Educators and students say these statistics don’t tell the whole story, including the impact that shootings have on the young people who witness or experience loss from gun violence. Research has shown that these traumatic experiences can lead to behavior problems that diminish academic performance.