Our last event for Tuesday, February 26th, was a Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program that took place at the Tinkham Veale University Center at CWRU titled “How Can We Reduce Gun Violence in Cleveland?” Mr. Peter Krouse of Cleveland.com discussed the issue with a distinguished panel consisting of:
- Dr. Lolita McDavid, MD, Medical Director of Child Advocacy and Protection at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children
- Judge Joan C. Synenberg of Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court
- Dr. Jane Timmons-Mitchell, Ph.D., Senior Resident Associate at CWRU Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education
- Mr. Andre Gonzalez, Police Chief of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority
They all agreed that gun violence has been getting worse, not better, especially when suicides are figured into the equation. Most of the discussion centered on the topic of gun violence among young people, its causes, and ways to counter it. The panelists felt that many youngsters resort to lethal violence because the feel that they have no power over the turmoil that is taking place around them, such as an unstable family life or bullying. In that situation, a gun gives them a sense of power, however destructive it may be.
Subsequently, children must be taught from age five onward that there are alternatives to violence which might involve preventing a volatile situation from escalating. It is also very important that the child be encouraged to take part in endeavors that enhance their self-worth such as sports and the arts. Certainly, this applies to adults, too. Along the way, there was praise for such worthy projects as the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance, which is “an independent neighborhood entity dedicated to maintaining peace and keeping young people out of gangs.”
To be sure, the panelists pointed out that researchers have developed quite a few programs that have proven to be successful in terms of countering dangerous trends that could, in time, lead to making use of a gun or a knife. Yet, the question remains as to whether or not we have both the finances and the political will to demand their implementation. It is a hopeful sign that this program was attended by quite a few people wearing red t-shirts with “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” stamped across the back of them. It has been our experience that these people have both the will and the commitment to make things happen.