D.C. educators grappling with effects of youth violence

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The Washington Teacher’s Union President, Jacqueline Pogue Lyons says D.C. schools need more emotional and mental services to help students cope with violence.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — D.C. Police are still on the lookout for three suspects that robbed a Calvin Coolidge High School student at gunpoint Thursday morning, triggering a lockdown at the school, and two others nearby.  

According to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), on Thursday, three suspects pulled up in a Black Infiniti sedan in the 6300 block of 5th Street Northwest. 

The driver of the car demanded that the teenager give him his coat, before running back to his car.  At some point, the suspect fired his gun at the ground and then drove off. No one was injured during this incident, according to police. 

“It is extremely concerning, like all the other incidents we have had around schools,” said Fourth District Commander Carlos Heraud. “We want our children to go to and from school, and while they’re at school we want them to be safe. We want them to feel safe,” he added. 

The Washington Teacher’s Union (WTU) President, Jacqueline Pogue Lyons is calling for more resources inside of schools given the recent incidents involving crime and students. “Social workers, counselors, psychologists, the whole gamut of social and emotional support for both students and family,” Pogue Lyons tells WUSA9. She added that retaining mental and emotional health specialists has become more difficult. 

The WTU has held meetings to address safety concerns in and out of schools. Pogue Lyons says that before the pandemic, the union could identify schools where violent issues were most common, but now they are seeing the same issues across the District. 

“Now teachers are dealing with students that are acting out in physical and violent ways more so than they were before COVID,” said Pogue Lyons. She says the 2022-2023 school year has had a drastic increase of violence issues inside of schools, with students as young as middle schoolers. 

Youth violence has also garnered the attention of the D.C. council. The council is considering a bill that would keep School Resource Officers (SROs) in both charter and public schools.  Two years ago, the council voted to remove all SROs by 2025. The legislation is sponsored by Councilmembers Trayon White, Vincent Gray, Brooke Pinto, and Chairman Phil Mendelson. 

Opponents of SROs in the city argue that their presence in schools leads to the criminalization of youth for incidents that do not require police intervention. 

D.C. educators grappling with effects of youth violence

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