Gen Z Town Hall Takes Aim at Youth Gun Violence
On a hot July afternoon, in Cincinnati’s Price Hill neighborhood, community members gathered together to figure out what is driving the city’s recent spike in gun violence. They sat just a few feet away from a make-shift shrine honoring 14-year-old Cameron Franklin who was shot and killed the weekend before.
City Council Member, Tamaya Dennard, organized the Gen Z Town Hall aimed at engaging the community’s young people (under 25 years old) to find a solution. Dennard shared with the group that youth violence will never be solved if it’s only adults working on the problem. Young people need to inform and drive change.
Dennard spoke directly and sincerely to the youth in the room. She encouraged them to speak their minds, and she reminded them that their thoughts and feelings are valid. She then sat back and listened as the youth answered three important questions posed by Dennard:
Why do young people turn to gun violence?
What can adults give to young people and what can young people do to avoid gun violence?
What are the barriers to solving the problem of gun violence?
The answers were honest, complex, and showed a deep understanding of the issue. While adults often blame structural barriers like the lack of jobs and opportunity, the youth in the room that day talked about the human need for confidence, understanding and unconditional love.
Dennard held a second Gen Z Town Hall in Cincinnati’s Evanston community that is also struggling with gun violence among its youth. She hopes to merge the ideas from two communities to begin addressing gun violence across the city.