As incidents of gun violence continues to rise amid children in Philadelphia, middle schoolers will now undergo weapon screenings.
Violence has always been a big concern within the city of Philadelphia, but the issue seems to be growing much worse. The problem is so bad, that many students this year have reported they are petrified just to get up and go to school every single morning. Community leaders have been addressing the growing worries of families in the city, and now middle schoolers throughout the City of Brotherly Love will undergo gun screening tactics amid the rising gun violence epidemic.
Fox 29 Philadelphia reported that officials for the Philadelphia School District announced plans to begin periodically screening middle school students for weapons amid the growing issue of gun violence rocking the Pennsylvania city. Taking no time to adjust, these screenings began right away on Monday, May 9th. The district stated that the screenings will take place within six middle schools every day, and will reach out to every school that houses middle schoolers within the district.
So far this year, the district has reported at least two acts of gun violence inside or near public schools. According to Chalkbeat, over 145 homicides have been reported in Philadelphia this year. According to school officials, teenagers and young children now make up a growing number of both those victims and perpetrators. 96 gunshot victims this year have been between the ages of 13 to 19.
The screening will be conducted by school safety personnel with at least one school leader, presumably a principal, overseeing the screenings each day. Hand wands and metal detectors will be used. Furthermore, all bags, backpacks, and personal belongings will be searched. Much like the normalcy these students face from growing gun violence, many are not surprised by the district’s decision to implement such screenings.
One 9-year-old spoke with the news outlet about how unphased students are by the screening. Third grader Jasmie Weld said that it would make students feel safer. Abdella Kreds, a junior at Ben Franklin High School, also spoke of the normality of the situation. “You never know what kids my generation may carry or not, even 8th and 7th graders,” he said – further depicting the growing issue of gun violence in Philadelphia.
The screening will take place in the morning when the middle schoolers first come into school. Drawing controversy, however, the district announced it will give students the ability to dispose of any non-firearm weapons they might be carrying before the screening, without any consequences. This decision might leave some scratching their heads, but given how serious the gun violence issue is among teens in Philadelphia, any little act to deter violence may help.
Weapons such as knives will be confiscated for good. Likewise, any guns found on a student will be taken, and authorities will be called in to address the student. For those opposed to the screening as an act of intrusion, the district referred to those families in a district letter, stating they would treat every student fairly with “dignity and respect” while focusing on the growing concern over gun violence.
Gun violence is a major issue for families not just in Philadelphia, but all over the nation. According to reports from Everytown, in 2022 alone, 55 incidents have been reported of gunfire on school grounds. These happenings have resulted in over 31 reported injuries and 8 deaths. Because of this, screenings are becoming a growing norm for schoolchildren in the United States.