Violence prevention in Lakewood, WA

Violence prevention in Lakewood, WA

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Andrew Kruse started this petition to City of Lakewood

Dear City of Lakewood, 

We, the signers of this letter, are gravely concerned and saddened by the gun violence perpetrated on June 26, 2021 at American Lake Park and July 9, 2021 at Fort Steilacoom Park. We recognize that the lives and families of the victims, suspects and community members present at these events were forever impacted by these events. We feel these actions do not represent the kind of reputation or environment we want associated with our city. 

While we cannot change the outcomes of these past events, we want to commit to the work of violence prevention as a community to prevent further incidents of violence. With this passion, we pledge to utilize our individual and organizational resources, relationships and platforms to positively collaborate with the city, businesses and non-profit organizations to impact the community, especially our youth. Due to isolation, untreated mental health issues and instability in the home that youth have experienced through the COVID-19 crisis there are many youth in our community dealing with anxiety, anger and uncertainty about how their basic needs are being met. All of these factors can contribute to youth reacting with unpredictable, hopeless, and sometimes violent actions. 

According to the 2020 Center for Disease Control’s “Fast Facts'' on youth violence, 1 in 5 high school students report being bullied at school in the last year, about 13 young people (ages 10-24) die from homicide each day throughout the U.S., and youth violence has an estimated cost of $20 billion dollars annually (in terms of medical and lost productivity associated with homicide and non-fatal physical assaults). Several examples of these issues have been raised in the last couple of years here in Lakewood include, 14 year old Gabby Cazares’ suicide due to bullying in 2018 and 17 year old Domani Nelson’s murder in October of last year.

Nationally, efforts have been made by individual cities, counties and youth organizations to promote family environments that support healthy development,  provide quality education in early life, strengthen youth’s skills, connect youth to caring adults and activities, create protective community environments, and intervene to lessen harms and prevent future risk. Prevention is not just about curbing undesirable behavior, it is about building relationships that guide youth to a future filled with hope and opportunity.

In addition to acknowledging the problem, we would like for the city of Lakewood, its elected officials, officers and employees to more regularly communicate to the public the current and new efforts to prevent violence by the city with local education and youth development partners. A collaborative effort should be made to meet on a monthly basis for leaders and community members to gather in a public forum to learn about these efforts and best practices for preventing violence in order to engage with intelligent, sustainable and unified methods to build a better community together.


Sincerely

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