By Tashi McQueen, AFRO Political Writer,
Report For America Corps Member,
Mayor Brandon Scott and his team are forging ahead with a new violence prevention plan aimed at reducing violence trends.
The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE) recently announced they would partner with Baltimore City Public Schools to establish school-based violence intervention programs.
This comes after MONSE implemented a community-based violence prevention initiative, the Group Violence Reduction Strategy GVRS, and funded organizations focused on stopping violence.
The school-based program will begin with Carver Vocational Technical High School, Digital Harbor High School and Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School in Spring 2023.
“We are proud to partner with a school system that knows cultivating emotional intelligence saves lives,” said Shantay Jackson, director of MONSE.
A report from MONSE said the deciding factors for identifying the selected schools included “the number of arrests, diversions, and disciplinary actions resulting from violence.”
Each school will employ three school-based violence interrupters to mediate conflicts. Alongside the interrupters, the program will use student ambassadors to help with the implementation of the initiative. The students will receive weekly stipends for their service.
“We chose the first schools and communities based on the data,” said Scott. “We’re focused on producing a culture-sensitive approach to dealing with violence in our schools.”
Scott added that the programs will focus on dealing with trauma and helping communities heal.
The program will include in-school specialists who will work with the students, school administrators and families. They aim to help change community beliefs about violence, encourage a positive school atmosphere and improve student problem-solving and conflict management.
“Many of our students have experienced more trauma than many adults have in a lifetime,” said Jackson. “We recognize the effects do not disappear once students enter the school building. We intend to equip students with the tools to resolve their conflicts physically and emotionally in a sound way.”
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