RELEASE: We Are Losing Philly’s Future

RELEASE: We Are Losing Philly’s Future

Media Contact:

Brandon Archer, Co-Executive Director 


We Are Losing Philly’s Future: Addressing Gun Violence in and out of Schools

It seems that every day parents, educators, and thousands of young people, who need no reminder about the severity of the gun violence crisis in Philadelphia, look to city officials for tangible restorative change they are met with criminalization, villainization, and a system that has rendered them victims of anti-Black and anti-youth policies. There should be no more stories about coming to classes and sitting next to empty desks; vacant because its occupant did not make it to see the next school day. What is the possibility for young people to make it to graduation, to enjoy being a kid in the city, in the wake of 55 homicides in 2024 alone [1], and 30 shots at a SEPTA station? 

Yet again, we must share that reactionary measures fail to address the systemic causes for gun violence and the intricacies of communities. We will not achieve any version of freedom, nor will we be able to protect our kids, with one-time solutions, we must make perpetual efforts for lasting tangible change. There is no testimony, no comment to be made at 440, no conversation with officials or stakeholders that would be able to articulate the pain of this moment… While we can commend previous efforts made by the city's stakeholders it remains clear, the only way forward is a radically new course of action. 

The city has been quick to police and criminalize students instead of funding proven strategies that address the root issues of Gun Violence. . The lack of commitment to effective interventions and meaningful changes perpetuates a continuous cycle that claims innocent lives on a daily basis. While we position stop-and-frisk and ski-mask ban policies as viable solutions to the city’s public safety emergency, we fail to address the structural phenomena that create the conditions for gun violence, and allow the damage caused by instances of such violence to linger. This results in consuming our young people in schools without mental health and counseling services and ill-equipped conversations about the impact. This has never been about just schools, the burden of gun violence is carried at every second from homes, neighborhoods, to classrooms. Yet the school building remains a transformational space and central space to addressing this crisis. As such, it must be populated with safe spaces, mental health and emotional support, teachers and school staff emotionally equipped and supported with tool kits to discuss and unpack both students and their own traumas, creating opportunities and resources for students to feel secure, empowered, to learn, and survive the day. 

Looking forward UrbEd, Inc. will continue to advocate alongside and with Philly young people — As students in these classrooms, students healing, and students unwilling to accept insufficient measures from city officials. As covered in our forthcoming campaign, continuing the ongoing work with Reimagining School Health and Safety, we demand for the issue to be addressed holistically and intentionally. We call for green spaces, counselors, mental health support, restorative justice, after school programs, and job and trade opportunities. 

In spite of all the things we must navigate, there is a distinct beauty that surrounds this moment and any time we come together — For every ski mask ban, for every curfew, for every life lost, and for every young person who has lived under the enduring threat of Philly gun violence there have been accompanying moments of resistance, rooted in traditions of community and solidarity. We can not lose Philly’s future. 



UrbEd, Inc. is a youth-led advocacy and educational policy nonprofit, reimagining the quality and equity of Philly public schools. 

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