With Memorial Day weekend seeing a slew of bullets flying across the tri-state area—resulting in the death of a 15-year-old boy in the Bronx—high-ranking elected officials are calling for funding for change.
On June 3, Congressmembers Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer assembled at Jacobi Hospital where they requested support for a youth violence reduction program through their Community Project Funding request.
Bronx elected officials say they have had enough of the violence young people are facing and are asking Congress to provide Jacobi Hospital approximately $400,000 to aid their youth reduction program, “Stand up to Violence” (SUV).
“Today represents a momentous moment, and tipping point in the start of this journey to make sure we reframe how we treat and bring down violence in our communities,” Congressmember Ocasio-Cortez said.
Representative Ocasio-Cortez shared that studies have found that 52% of youth who participate in a violence reduction program are less likely to be injured in further violent trauma. Jacobi began its SUV program in 2014, utilizing doctors, outreach workers, and others to respond to violence as a public health issue. The Congresswoman broke down the basics of the program which is to treat violence like a doctor treats a patient.
Jacobi screens a patient who has arrived with a wound correlating to a violent crime, such as a gunshot wound or stab wound, and after a doctor assesses and treats the injuries, instead of simply discharging the patient once they are healed, a social worker, therapist, and community leaders are on hand to speak with the individual and try to deescalate any thoughts of retaliation.
Ocasio-Cortez credits the SUV program for its cutting-edge initiative for not only utilizing outreach workers who understand, first-hand, violent experiences, but also to discover what precipitated the incident in question. School life, housing, employment, mental health status, and more, are questions and factors she said must be taken into account. Currently, the Jacobi program has managed to reduce violent retribution by 50% to 60%.
“We bring in our outreach workers and our mentors to try to not only get that young person back on track but also reduce that initial first response to desire retribution, and let’s take a step back. Let’s heal not just what is happening anatomically, but let’s heal the conditions as to what is going on in your life socially,” Ocasio-Cortez said, adding, “That is one of the most effective interventions we have at reducing the recurrence of violent crime.”
The politicians were flanked by individuals who have turned their lives around from engaging in gun violence to working to prevent it, along with the medical staff. These champions for change were cited as the heroes who are tirelessly striving to intervene before more lives are lost. However, for these actions to make meaningful strides, the group says they need financial backing.
“Youth violence is something, quite frankly, that we have to be focused on. When a youth is taken from us, it’s just so bad for of course the family, but also our society. We have to do better. There are certain things that we never knew about that can actually work that will reduce the chances of a youth being killed, maimed, or injured in violence. That’s what they have been doing here at Jacobi,” Senator Schumer said.
SUV is a nationwide outreach service that responds to shootings and attempts to deter retaliation, while also assisting family members of the injured or killed, providing mentorship to at-risk youth, and informs them about educational, internship, and job opportunities.
“These are amazing things, these are difficult things, but they are things that should be supported,” Schumer said, adding, “We want to be proactive. This program works but it needs some money.”
Schumer backed the additional funding of $400,000, which if passed, will be provided to the SUV through Community Project Funding request. These allocated funds would provide an emergency room social worker, caseworker, part-time psychiatrist and a creative arts or music therapist.
“It is an innovative program, but it’s also a very common-sense program. Let’s invest in the people who come from the communities. Let’s give them the resources that they need,” Rep. Bowman said, adding, “This is about being proactive, being preventive, and believing in our young people and the people that come from communities that have been historically red lined due to policy decisions by elected officials. The violence that happens in certain areas of our city is not by accident. It is because of bad decisions that have been made historically.”