How Youth Can Do Something About Gun Violence
A new survey aims to capture young Americans' perceptions on school safety—as well as their recommendations on how violence can be prevented.
DoSomething.org Chief Marketing Officer Naomi Hirabayashi said that the organization hopes the School Safety and Gun Policy survey, which was launched to coincide with the State of the Union address, will encourage young people to join the national dialogue on gun violence prevention.
“Our big goal is for Washington to see the aggregate of young people’s opinions on this issue,” Hirabayashi said. “These questions have been asked of adults at a national level, but we want to see what do young people think compared to what adults think.”
The survey, which will run for six weeks and is open to individuals in middle school through college, asked students to rank potential school safety policies from offering improved mental healthcare to ensuring that one staff member at each school is armed. It also asked whether students are conscious of others bringing weapons to school grounds.
Hirabayashi said she hopes to receive at least 10,000 responses. The final product and mechanism for sharing the results will depend on the feedback they receive, and could be anything from a report distributed among Washington legislators to a full-fledged issue campaign.
“What makes us stand out is that our focus isn’t on the presidents of the debate club and people who sit in front of the class,” Hirabayashi said. “It is easy for them to get involved. We are more worried about the kid sitting in the back whose parents are working two jobs. We want to make social change accessible to them. So we focus on making our efforts accessible, free, and never anything that requires an adult.”
According to a Children's Defense Fund report [PDF], a total of 5,740 children and teens died in 2008 and 2009 as a result of gun violence—or one death every three hours.
DoSomething.org is an activism-oriented non-profit that works to engage young people (under 25-years-old) in changing their communities. The organization ran a similar student survey last year on bullying.
Marc Peters is a reporter at Campus Progress.You can follow Marc on Twitter at @rippleofhope.