McKeesport students’ experience with gun violence helps shape priorities in Attorney General report

PITTSBURGH — The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office published a report on Tuesday offering information about the impact of gun violence on teenagers.

The ‘teenTALK’ report comes after Attorney General Michelle Henry visited four school districts in the last year, including McKeesport, for “candid conversations with students about how gun violence impacts their mental health and what changes could make them feel safer.” During the sessions, Henry says students shared how they experience and perceive gun violence, shared their experiences with losing loved ones to violence and expressed frustration over adapting to gun violence as a common occurrence.

“This report captures the lessons we learned from honest discussions with future leaders who want to see change and want to have a role in making those changes realities in their neighborhoods,” Attorney General Henry said. “Until every student can grow up free from the scourge of gun violence, we must continue to identify and root out damaging behaviors while offering support resources to help students thrive.”

According to Henry, students identified three priority areas of improvement:

  • Better communication and trust between school officials and students, so the unknown doesn’t make coping harder.
  • Additional options for mental health services are needed to provide adequate support for students.
  • Funding and resources for programming like social emotional learning and conflict resolution/peer mediation should be prioritized.

The report is meant to be a tool for schools and communities statewide “to help advance initiatives and strategies that promote student learning, safety, and community involvement.” Henry said it was issued at the end of the school year so administrators and teachers have time to review and make adjustments to their strategies.

Click here to see the full report.

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