Philly’s gun violence rates are dropping but more work is needed to strengthen youth empowerment, leaders say

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Philadelphia gun violence prevention advocates feel that their work made a difference in 2023 — and they hope to continue and grow their work as Mayor-elect Cherelle Parker takes office in 2024.

As of this month, there’s been a 25% decrease in fatal and non-fatal shootings compared to last year. That’s a higher decrease than was expected — mid-year data initially showed that shootings went down by 20% compared to 2022.

“There’s so much to be hopeful for,” said Jeanette Bavwidinsi, executive director of the Office of Youth Engagement. “I’m excited about the continuance on that upward trajectory.”

The numbers for both gun violence deaths and injuries are still high, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, when the city’s number of gun violence victims skyrocketed to more than 2,200, the city has made substantial progress, Bavwidinsi said.

“Obviously, we still have a bunch of work to do,” she said. “We are making forward progress, and forward progress sometimes feels small, incremental.”

One reason to remain hopeful, Bavwidinsi said, is because the city’s youth are becoming activists and organizers.

“Young people have a knack for invigorating and re-energizing folks,” she said.

Community members join the Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement for their 11th “Brothas Stroll” (a walk from Black Men’s Health) in the 6th District. (Courtesy of the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement)

And as the new year approaches, she believes that the city can’t curb gun violence without their help.

“The energy that I get and I feel is that they’re ready to work,” she said. “They’re ready to add their voices. They’re ready to convene spaces. They’re ready to organize — and not necessarily in opposition to anything — just to be a more engaged and civically-minded generation.”

  • December 18, 2023
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