Three weeks into the school year in Miami, a fourth-grader and two teenagers have already been killed by gun violence. It’s a grim reality that in some of Miami’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, elementary school students have been struck down on their own doorsteps, playing outside and on the way to the movies, the Miami Herald reports. For older kids, the risk of getting caught up in gun violence either as perpetrators or victims is even greater. Yesterday, a coalition of government and law enforcement agencies, local nonprofits, and business and education groups, announced an innovative and potentially controversial new effort to stem the bloodshed: using data to identify and help at-risk children before they become statistics.
The Together for Children coalition zeroed in on 20 zip codes where the majority of violent crimes affecting children occur. The coalition identified 2,000 individual students at high risk of getting caught up in the cycle of violence. That determination was based on six benchmarks often associated with youth violence: poor school attendance, behavioral issues, low standardized test scores in math and reading as well as math and reading classroom skills that lag behind grade level. The 2,000 students, whose identities the school district says will be kept strictly confidential, all have at least four of the risk factors. Under the coalition plan, those kids will be referred to extra support services, such as truancy prevention and therapy programs.