San Diego Unified to Recognize Gun Violence Prevention Week

Posted: Friday, February 1st 2019


Students from Mira Mesa High School speaking about gun violence

A new generation of San Diego students is bringing new life to the difficult debate over death due to gun violence -- the number one cause of death for young men ages 15 to 19, according to CDC data. Students who have grown up in a school system where they are continually told every voice matters are using their voices to work for change. At a public forum with Parkland survivors later this month and at a San Diego Unified-focused conversation at Morse High next week, students are working together to find new solutions to an old debate.

Some of the new solutions now available to students and families concerned about gun violence include the Asking Saves Kids (ASK) flyer and the End Family Fire campaign -- links can be found at the end of this story. The ASK flyer reminds families to check whether guns are kept in the homes where their children play. The End Family Fire campaign is a push for responsible gun ownership and storage. The newest defense is the Gun Violence Restraining Orders that allow families and friends to get guns away from loved ones experiencing distress.

On February 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students and staff members and injuring 17 others, making it the deadliest shooting at a high school in U.S. history. This tragedy has been a catalyst for change in the national conversation on gun violence prevention, driving the country’s youth to speak out against gun violence.

In San Diego, thousands of students across the city have already added their voices to this conversation.

“We want to use our voice to make change happen. All these shootings, all these deaths in schools and parents losing their children, we need more than thoughts and prayers,” said Laura, a senior at Point Loma High School. "The only thing students should fear at school is a pop quiz... when we say 'never again,' we must remember that our actions speak louder than words."

On the “National Walkout Day” last spring, students from dozens of San Diego schools organized and led peaceful demonstrations against gun violence, with some gatherings drawing crowds of nearly 400. These events gave students a chance to speak out on what had become a pressing concern for them.

"Since [Columbine], a disease has been sewn into our collective American society,” said another Point Loma student. “Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and latest of all Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. It has to stop.”

Just this week, San Diego Unified is remembering the victims of the first school shooting in our city’s history, which took place here 40 years ago last Monday. San Diego Unified principal Burton Wragg and custodian Mike Suchar were killed in the shooting outside Cleveland Elementary School on January 29, 1979.

“Principal Wragg and Mike Suchar lost their lives trying to save children from the first school shooter in San Diego history. Forty years later, we have to ask ourselves -- as a city -- whether we are doing everything we can possibly do to protect young people today,” said School Board Member Kevin Beiser. “The issue of gun violence is too big for schools to solve on our own, but schools are the right place for the conversation to start.”

San Diego Unified has recognized the second week of February as Gun Violence Prevention Week, and held a special discussion on what the school community can do to make a difference. Measures the district is taking include increased campus security through fencing, cameras and other safeguards. They also include an initiative for students and parents to take steps to protect themselves by reporting suspicious activity, storing legal firearms safely, and taking legal action to get guns out of the hands of those who are a threat to themselves or others.

San Diego students are continuing to drive the conversation around school shootings, engaging with outside advocates and holding a special session of the student equity ambassadors to address this topic with their peers. High School students are also encouraged to participate in a San Diego town hall with teens from around the country to discuss gun violence prevention on February 15, 2019 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Proscenium Theater at Canyon Crest Academy, 5951 E. Village Loop Road, San Diego, 92130.  Additional information about  this activity is available at https://sd4gvp.org/student-led-town-hall-to-reduce-gun-violence/.

“Student-directed efforts are especially powerful, and our community should be very proud of the leadership our young people have shown,” said Beiser. “Now, it is up to the entire community to do its part.”


For more information:

Asking Saves Kids (ASK) Letter: English  Spanish

"What is Family Fire?" Letter: English 

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