Gun violence, especially among schoolchildren, is on the rise in New York City.
Between July 2015 to May 2016, school safety agents and NYPD officers confiscated about 1,751 guns and different kinds of knives from students across the city. In most instances, the kids were either flashing their weapon or pointing it at someone when the law enforcement officials intervened.
The growing gang problem is only making the whole thing worse, which is why a local hospital has come up with a unique initiative to teach youngsters how one wrong decision on their part or a moment of doubt could potentially send them (or someone else) 6 feet underground.
Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, a nonprofit in Brooklyn, recently invited 50 middle and high school students to visit their morgue. The aim of the visit was not only to show kids the harm guns can do, but also to scare them straight.
“You guys have a decision to make,” Public Affairs Officer Khari Edwards told the group. “You can make a decision to do great things, or you can make a decision to go the wrong way, and usually, wrong ways end you up here.”
Along with seeing bullet-ridden dead bodies, the kids also made a quick trip to the trauma center to see the victims of gun violence in real time.
“Seeing that body, it just made me realize that life is precious,” 17-year-old Shane Magloire told ABC News. “And just thinking, like, ‘What if one of my friends or myself was dead?’”
“I felt like that personal level that they had, talking about the gun violence and holding them accountable for their behavior and actions while watching this presentation, I thought that was super effective,” Stefan Phillip, guidance counselor at New Visions Charter High School, told Brooklyn Paper. “It opened their eyes to see stuff they had never seen before, and to see that this is real. It’s not just something that’s in a movie, it’s not something from a video game. This stuff can actually happen.”
The hospital reportedly receives a gunshot victim every 36 hours.
“It was touching,” said student Deshawn Rios. “Knowing what these people went through, it could have them think, ‘What if that was me in that situation, in this position? How would the family members of the victim of the life I took away feel?’”
The program might be a little morbid and traumatic for some, but it certainly drives the message across.