The New Normal

What social problem worries elementary school children so much that they devote twelve weeks to trying to solve it? For two SLP classes attending school in underserved Brooklyn neighborhoods, the answer is gun violence.

During the fall session of SLP’s Residency Program, a 5th grade class at a public school in Brownsville shared stories of their personal experiences with gun violence. They spoke about family members in gangs, seeing people in their neighborhood get shot, losing a parent to gun violence.  

“I don’t have any personal stories about guns,” said one student. “I mean, I hear the gunshots every day, but nothing has ever happened to me.”

Everyday gunshots are normal in Brownsville. During their research, these young advocates surveyed students in their school and discovered that 78% hear gunshots while at home. For their final project with SLP, they created this powerful Public Service Announcement (PSA) to raise awareness about the devastation created by guns in their community:

A 3rd grade class attending public school in Bedford Stuyvesant also chose gun violence as the problem that most concerned them. A survey they conducted revealed that 16% of third and fourth graders in their school had witnessed someone getting shot and 24% feel scared of guns while walking to and from school. Heartbreaking statistics. But, like their counterparts in Brownsville, it is their normal. These 8 and 9 year olds also created a PSA to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of guns in their community, and the trauma experienced by too many: