Since the beginning of the new year, New York City has seen a significant rise in crimes committed by teenagers. According to statistics provided by the NYPD, in January and February 2023, 21 shootings involving teenagers took place. This shows a stark increase compared to the same periods in 2022 and 2021, which had 17 and 10 shootings respectively. All the above-mentioned figures are higher than those from the pre-pandemic era. The statistics show that the number of teenagers suffering from gunfire injuries has increased from 2018 to 2022. In 2018, 63 teenagers suffered gunshot injuries while in 2022, 149 suffered similar injuries.
The current state of affairs is worrying for all residents of New York City because the city’s youth are violently harming and killing one another. The violence affects nearly every facet of city life because friends, families, and communities are losing loved ones. Some of the shootings occur in public areas leaving the general public feeling unsafe. Shootings involving teenagers have been known to occur outside schools but also occur outside subway stations and bodegas, areas with people not involved in these confrontations.
The rise of teenage crime has been attributed to several factors by police officials, experts, and activists. One reason many believe the teenage crime rates have been rising is due to teenagers participating in gang activity. This leads to gang wars whenever there is conflict, resulting in violence and bloodshed. The reduction of School Safety Agents in schools is cited as another reason for the high rates of violence involving teenagers. The Raise the Age and Bail Reform laws have also been blamed for the status quo.
NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell blamed the laws for the rise in teenage crime. “More young kids are getting shot,” Chell said. “More young kids are shooters. And what’s the reason? The consequences are minimal for some of the kids that need to be taken off the street.”
NYC School Safety Coalition Founder Mona Davids also cited the laws as encouraging the teenagers to act violently. “That’s why these kids are wilding out because there are no consequences,” Davids said. “They know that because the gang leaders and the other gang members tell them this – they know the current laws protect the criminals.”
The occurrence of teenage violence has increased despite the city making efforts to reduce and stop the crimes. The NYPD increased its presence around several schools, particularly those that are known to be violence hotspots. This was done by deploying more officers around dismissal time and also sending Youth Coordination Officers to cover schools. The NYPD also launched an initiative that allows precinct commanders to meet with school principals to discuss and find means to resolve issues.
“We put more cops in and around the schools, the corridors, the transit hubs, the Chipotles, the McDonald’s of the world,” Chell told The NY Post in February. “So we’ve kind of made a ring around schools and are just basically trying to give them safe passage.”
LittleAfrica News has extensively covered the surge of teenage violence affecting New York City, including the violent deaths that have occurred due to gunfire and stabbings. The publication has also covered the calls for more to be done to combat the issue of violence around schools as well as the call for more School Safety Agents and police officers to be present at schools.