PHILADELPHIA - As the gun violence in Philadelphia continues out of control, local area schools have begun to feel the brunt of it as more and more young victims have their lives claimed.
As of Monday, there were 427 homicides in the city with 26 of those victims being under the age of 18. That includes a 13-year-old who was shot and killed while sitting in a car with other teens.
Principal Le'Yondo Dunn of the Simon Gratz Mastery Charter High School joined Good Day Philadelphia to discuss the impacts of gun violence on the youth and the community.
The school community itself has lost 10 students to gun violence and has had to close for a day of healing in light of the extent of the gun violence.
"I think it's a very tragic thing that's taking place. When I started my role at Simon Gratz High School, the toughest thing I've had to do is look at my school community and inform them that we've lost a young person. I've had to call parents and loved ones after we've lost a student to offer our condolences," explained Dunn. "That should not be my experience as a principal. It should not be the experience of families and students in Philadelphia. And it should not be the experience of teachers to have to look across the classroom and not have students who started the year be there at the end of the year."
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According to Principal Dunn, he never imagined he would ever have to close his school for a day of healing and hopes that they never have to do so again.
He hopes that all city stakeholders and officials begin to work together in order to address the loss of brown and black student lives.
"We have to be able to say as a collective group of leaders in Philadelphia that we have done everything we can to protect children," Principal Dunn asserted.
He points out cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as having responded to gun violence to protect the youth in their cities.
As far as students coping goes, Principal Dunn states that not all students feel safe commuting to school. Inside the school, he explains that they will kick off a pilot for vulnerable students who need extra support by giving them resources to jobs, extracurricular activities, and therapy.
Principal Dunn says they have to turn things around in this city, because there is no other choice if they want to continue to prosper.