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Cure Violence Experts Say More Must Be Done At Schools To Prevent Teen Violence; 'We Know Violence Begins There'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - New York City's surge of violence has elected officials looking at changes to policing, bail reform and gun laws.

Cure violence experts applaud some of the initiatives but say getting to the root of the problem means we must focus on helping kids, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported Thursday.

At school dismissal, some New York City kids maneuver around crime scene tape from yet another shooting. They deal with violent crime and its aftermath, as the adults struggle to solve a worsening problem in the city and nationwide.

According to the nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive, in 2020 in the U.S., more than 5,100 kids under the age of 18 were shot. That's about 1,000 more than any year since 2014.

Cure violence experts say with shootings among teens on the rise, there is the  obvious place to start.

"Our public schools, because we know violence begins there," said Iesha Sekou of Street Corner Resources. At her Harlem headquarters, she guides a team of 40, many of them young adults, who fan out in the neighborhoods, gather intel, and work to interrupt disagreements before they explode into injury and death.

"When the gun shows up on a young kid, that kid is reeking with fear," Sekou said. "I know that when you see the kid at 13 with a gun... if we don't deal with that at that point, we're going to see that kid again. Either we're going to see him in a box in the morgue... or we're going to see him in cuffs."

She wants to see more school counselors, and similar types of counselors in more places.

"I don't care if they're at every COVID site, every corner store, every laundromat... and relieve some of the trauma and stress that they're having." Sekou said.

She says she supports Mayor Eric Adams' recently announced blueprint to end gun violence, but wants a greater emphasis on beat officers who know the people and surroundings.

Sekou demands cure violence groups be better funded and included in more City Hall discussions, adding voices to guard against over policing and encourage more gun buy backs, more youth centers and enhanced recreation programs.

Victor Dempsey, leader of GANGS Coalition, agrees. GANGS stands for Grassroots Advocates for Neighborhood Groups and Solutions.

"From the time they're born, they're underinvested in. We're talking about from the schools system all the way up to getting a job," Dempsey said.

They say when initiatives are inclusive, sweeping, sustained, and focus on youth, New York City becomes safer.

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