Discussions with youth on gun violence

Photo by Vincent Thompson

A group of teenagers met with City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson to discuss how gun violence is affecting their neighborhoods.

Johnson, who represents parts of South Philly as well as other parts of the city, held a roundtable discussion from various parts of the city on July 19 at City Hall. More than 100 people attended the discussion in Council’s Caucus Room to vent their frustrations and propose solutions to the gun violence epidemic. 

“During the past few weeks, I have held public discussions with individuals and families impacted by gun violence, organizations whose job is to reduce gun violence in our city, and City of Philadelphia officials, who are responsible for implementing plans to reduce gun violence this summer and beyond,” Johnson said. 

Johnson helped secure $5 million in city funding in the Fiscal Year 2024 Operations Budget for the city Department of Streets to support 200 additional positions in the Future Track Program to assist young adults in developing the skills and experience necessary for professional success. 

Johnson also secured $500,000 for PowerCorpsPHL, an AmeriCorps program that trains young people to work in the Green Economy and urban farming. He also secured funding for the City Year Philadelphia Program to create more supportive school communities and develop civically engaged young adults. 

Johnson said he plans to continue to call for the investment of more money into trauma-informed therapy for Philadelphians, especially youth, and to address gun violence as a public health issue. He is also calling for a greater emphasis on tracking the flow of illegal guns coming into the area.

Meeting face-to-face with local teenagers helped Johnson better understand the needs of the community. 

“It is important to hear from Philadelphia’s teenagers and give them an opportunity to speak on this very important issue,” Johnson said. “The meeting was an open conversation with the teenagers to hear from them what are some of the root causes of the shootings happening in Philadelphia and what are their solutions to solving the problem.”

According to statistics from the Philadelphia City Controller’s Office, there have been at least 784 nonfatal and 203 fatal shooting victims in Philadelphia this year through July 16.

Of those non-fatal shooting victims, 11 percent have been juveniles while 47 percent involve victims ages 18-30. As far as fatal shootings go, 7 percent were juvenile victims and 48 percent were between the ages of 18-30. 

Most shooting victims are male, however 14 percent of non-fatal shootings and 10 percent of gun-related homicides this year involved female victims, according to the City Controller’s Office.