The NYC School Safety Coalition hosted its first Youth and School Safety Summit on Saturday, February 11th at P.S. 154, The Harriet Tubman Community School in Harlem. The summit was held along with a Family Resource Fair. The summit kicked off with a press conference led by mothers, joined by students and activists, demanding an end to the youth violence epidemic.
“We need to get these guns off the street,” said Yvette Ramos, a mother who lost her child to gun violence. “Our children should be able to come to school and be safe in school.”
Jackie Rowe-Adams, who has lost two of her sons to gun violence led the press conference. Rowe-Adams founded Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E to support mothers who have lost children to violence and advocate for non-violence. The event fell on the anniversary of the death of one of her sons.
“We need our police,” said Jackie Rowe-Adams. “We are not going to defund no police. We need our police!”
Oresa Napper-Williams, the founder of Not Another Child, called on parents to be more involved with their children’s education and well-being. Napper-Williams, speaking directly to parents, said, “We ask that you not just allow the schools to make sure that your children are okay, but that it starts at home. We ask that the integrity that you want our educators to have – that you want school officials to have – that you want the DOE to have – that you want the Mayor to have – that integrity begins at home. The things that you want the school to teach your child begins at home.”
Students were also given a chance to voice their concerns. “I shouldn’t be scared to get an education. I should be able to come home,” one student said. There were calls for more funding for organizations who work with the youth.
The Youth and School Safety Summit had a variety of panelists discuss the safety crisis that the youth are experiencing, as well as the violence in communities.
The Family Resource Fair, which also took place in the cafeteria, gave parents and others access to information on free after-school, weekend, and summer learning programs. A variety of city agencies were also available to give information about social services and employment opportunities.
Mona Davids, the head of the NYC School Safety Coalition, organizer of the press conference, summit and resource fair, echoed the calls of the mothers to Mayor Adams, asking him to “Listen to the mothers.” She also said, “Mayor Adams, we need you to do whatever you have to do to keep our babies safe.”
The message from the mothers who have lost their children to gun and youth violence was a clear sign of support to Mayor Adams to take all steps needed to ensure the safety of students in schools, traveling to and from school, and in the communities they live.
Mayor Adams surprised everyone – parents and the youth – by making an appearance at the Youth and School Safety Summit. He attended both the summit and the Resource Fair, engaging with both parents and the youth for nearly two hours. He listened to the Youth Panel students share their concerns and express what support they need from the Mayor.
The NYC School Safety Coalition and parents have repeatedly asked for better safety for school children by the addition of more School Safety Agents and metal detectors in schools inside schools as well as more police officers outside schools to provide safe corridors.
On Thursday, February 9th, just a few days before the summit, the NYPD announced that it would be taking steps to improve safety in and around school perimeters by deploying Youth Coordination Officers (YCOs).
“Student safety is a priority for the NYPD and we regularly monitor and evaluate crime conditions in and around schools. In response to recent incidents, the NYPD is increasing the number of Youth Coordination Officers (YCOs) citywide,” an NYPD spokesperson said in a statement.
“These officers will be assigned to Sergeants who will supervise the YCOs. Additionally, precinct administrative personnel will be utilized to patrol dismissals at designated schools and we will ensure that Transit District School Safety Teams are strategically deployed.”