Pennsylvania Attorney General Releases ‘teenTALK’ Report on Gun Violence Impact

Michelle Henry, PA Attorney GeneralCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Attorney General Michelle Henry has unveiled a comprehensive report examining the effects of gun violence on teenagers. This report follows a series of roundtable discussions with students from various school districts across Pennsylvania.

The Roundtable Discussions

During the 2023-24 school year, Attorney General Henry visited four school districts: Philadelphia, McKeesport, Hazleton, and Steelton-Highspire. She engaged in candid conversations with students about how gun violence affects their mental health and what changes could enhance their sense of safety.

The resulting ‘teenTALK’ report aims to serve as a resource for Pennsylvania schools and communities. It offers insights and recommendations to promote student well-being, safety, and community involvement.

“This report captures the lessons we learned from honest discussions with future leaders who want to see change and want to have a role in making those changes realities in their neighborhoods,” said Attorney General Henry. “Until every student can grow up free from the scourge of gun violence, we must continue to identify and root out damaging behaviors while offering support resources to help students thrive.”

Key Findings and Recommendations

Students shared their personal experiences and perspectives on gun violence and other forms of violence in their communities. Many recounted losing family members and friends to gun violence. They expressed frustration at having to normalize such violence in their lives.

The students identified several priority areas for improvement:

  • Better Communication and Trust: Students called for improved communication and trust between school officials and students. They believe this would make it easier to cope with the uncertainties surrounding gun violence.
  • Enhanced Mental Health Services: There is a pressing need for more mental health services to provide adequate support for students dealing with trauma.
  • Funding for Support Programs: Students emphasized the importance of funding programs like social-emotional learning and conflict resolution/peer mediation.
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Empowering Schools

The ‘teenTALK’ report is being issued at the end of the school year to give administrators and teachers time to review the findings and make necessary adjustments to their strategies. The goal is to implement these recommendations effectively to create safer and more supportive school environments.

The schools involved in these discussions are part of the Office of Attorney General’s Safe2Say Something program. This initiative allows students to anonymously report concerns or incidents of violence, including gun violence, bullying, and threats of self-harm.

Empowering Change

The roundtable sessions and the subsequent report highlight the Office of Attorney General’s ongoing commitment to addressing gun violence. Beyond educational efforts, the office continues to enforce laws aimed at removing illegally possessed firearms from communities and holding offenders accountable.

The ‘teenTALK’ report is a significant step towards understanding and mitigating the impact of gun violence on teenagers in Pennsylvania. By listening to the voices of young people and acting on their recommendations, the state can work towards creating safer, healthier environments for its students.

This report will be made available to every school district in the Commonwealth, providing a valuable tool in the fight against gun violence and its effects on the youth.

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