June is National Gun Violence Prevention month. During a time where our nation is being showered with news of gun related violence, and our social media is littered with emotional calls to action; let us for a moment look at what gun violence prevention looks like, and how it can impact our neighborhoods.
The Reality & Community Impact
The CDC reports that in 2020 there were about 124 people who died from a firearm-related injury each day; more than 4 out of 10 deaths were from firearm homicides. Those who survive gun-related injuries can come away with physical disabilities, limitations, and mental health problems ranging from memory issues to PTSD. The secondary victims of gun violence (friends, family, neighbors) can also experience vicarious trauma.
Gun violence creates an immense impact on the communities involved. Community members become more vigilant, curfews may be put into place, and citizens start to become more cautious. In areas where gun violence is more common, this vigilance becomes ingrained in the culture. Those members are more than likely to be cautious for years and potential generations to come.
Vigilance is defined as being cautious and keeping an eye out for danger. At times this is where we end our worries. After time has passed and there are no more occurrences, it is easy for us as community members to let gun violence become a bad memory. This approach leaves no room for prevention, or change that may help the community to have a future without the pain and trauma of gun violence.
Community members can actively make a difference in two categories:
Engaging in Policy Change.
Active gun shooter drills should not be the end-all-be-all for prevention. Before we teach them where the best hiding spots are in their classroom, let us talk about fostering our youth’s emotional well-being. Having emotional well-being will allow our youth to be more confident in their lives, able to regulate their emotions, understand their thoughts and overall is able to face life’s challenges. Here are a few ways to foster emotional health:
School-based teaching focusing on respect, visibility, empathy, and open communication.
Ending toxic masculinity practices
Engage in gender violence prevention
Talking about healthy & unhealthy relationships
Visibility for LGBTQ+ youth in the classroom & community
Gentle Parenting Approach
Engaging in Change
Gun violence prevention is a hot button issue across the United States, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. Many feel that it is out of their hands to make a change or influence change. This sense of helplessness can make many passionate people give up.
Instead of demonstrating helplessness, let us focus on changes that are close to our home. Our local government and state government can make just as much of an impact in our communities as the federal government. These are some ways to engage in change locally:
Vote during local elections for representatives with gun violence prevention platforms
Follow-up on policies, bills, or other gun violence prevention decisions made in local or state government
Contact your local representatives.
Connect with organizations with gun violence prevention programs.
Push for better funding for schools
Vote for universal health care; medical, mental health, behavioral health.
Prevention is needed before life altering events occur. These previous topics can be seen as preventive measures for other public health crises. Public health crises, such as domestic violence, can be prevented by educating others, teaching youth the importance of emotions, respecting one another, showing visibility for all, and engaging in community programs.
Everyone has the potential to make an impact in their community, sometimes the best way to start is in your own home:
Know what’s happening in your community
Reach out to others
You are also not alone with feeling the impact of gun violence in our country and locally. Communities feel tragedy, just as much as close loved ones. But we also have the ability to change and prevent future tragedies from occurring.
For more support please contact our 24/7 hotline: 608-364-1083
Be sure to check out our LIVE on Wednesday June 15th @ 4pm on our Facebook page: facebook.com/DefyDVBeloit
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