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Dallas neighbors discuss strategies to help curb gun violence near schools

"It takes all of us. So, we wanted to start with ourselves. Think about how we can support our youth," said Michael Berry with Youth Guidance Dallas.

DALLAS — A group of community members is working to develop strategies to help keep teens safe in and around some Dallas schools. 

Students’ safety was the hot topic of conversation as about two dozen people gathered in a room on Saturday, Nov. 19. The group included people who work as mentors, violence interrupters, parents and other concerned Dallas residents.

"We're here because our kids need us. Our communities need us,” said Michael Berry with Youth Guidance Dallas. 

The meeting was about intention. It was scheduled on the heels of several violent shootings and gun incidents involving Dallas Independent School District (DISD) students.

"We came together to try to brainstorm ideas and some solutions in relation to violence in and around DISD schools related to gangs, social media, conflict resolution,” said Victor Alvelais with Dallas CRED.

During break-out sessions, the group also discussed how race and cultural relations are playing out in some cases among students. The participants stayed mission-focused on developing strategies to help curb violence near schools.

"It takes all of us. So, we wanted to start with ourselves. Think about how we can support our youth. Have them thinking bigger and better. Having long-term vision and goals for that,” said Berry. 

Berry's organization already works in six school campuses. 

The stakeholders said they’re trying to be proactive by coming together in in this way.

"We need programs like this," said Mahogany Brooks. 

Brooks is a parent who said she knows, all too well, the impact of gun violence on families. Her teenage son is a shooting victim.

“He got shot three times. So, it’s very real,” said Brooks. 

The reality of conflicts, or beefs, finding their way from the neighborhood and into the schools, or from the schools into the community, is real. 

“We have an obligation to do something,” said Alvelais. 

Among the strategies discussed, the group members agreed that effective communication with students can be key.   

“Continue to be listening to our youth. They are screaming and yelling out for help and support. We need to be there to listen,” added Berry. 

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