According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio is one of 10 states where gun-related deaths among youths are highest. Children from affected communities recently visited the Ohio Statehouse to meet with lawmakers on the issue.
Jake Streeter, executive director of the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center, said his kids, many of whom come from neighborhoods where regular gun violence is a reality, drew posters and wrote letters with ideas and solutions now displayed throughout the statehouse.
According to the Children's Defense Fund, nationwide in 2021, more than 4,700 children and teens were killed with guns, up 40% from 2017, and half of all child and teen gun deaths occurred in just 10 states, including Ohio, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Black children and teens were six times as likely to die from gun violence as their white peers. Streeter added the grassroots organizations working with children need funding to be able to provide positive alternatives to keep kids off the streets.
He hopes state representatives work to ensure summer and after-school programming is available to all Ohio kids.
Taking its name from the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, the six-week Freedom Schools program focuses on literacy and cultural enrichment, and is aimed at serving children and youths in grades K-12 in communities where quality academic programming is lacking.
This story was originally published by the Ohio Public News Network and republished here with permission.