KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Violence in Kansas City has police and prosecutors taking a different approach to finding a solution to the ongoing problem.
About 34 percent of homicide victims in Kansas City this year were killed before they turned 25. That’s why community leaders want to get teenagers’ perspective on how to end violent crime.
High school students from Kansas City Public Schools will meet Thursday for an anti-violence summit. They’ll share their perspectives with Mayor Quinton Lucas, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and Superintendent Mark Bedell.
Bedell said KCPS works with students in a trauma-informed way, but schools can’t be the only source of support.
“It’s important we amplify the voices of our students,” he said. “We need our leaders to hear directly from them. We need our community to rally behind our students.”
The students are talking about the violence they’ve seen and how trauma affects them and their peers.
The Center for Conflict Resolution is facilitating the discussions. The executive director, Annette Lantz-Smith, said they hope to empower kids to find their own ways to create change.
“Every single one of us needs to be taking that initiative to do what we can in our life and in our circle to effect the violence in the city,” said Lantz-Smith.
Lantz-Smith said students are the most open and honest about the emotional impact of crime, in the right setting.
“A lot of adults would be amazed at what these kids are dealing with and rising above.”
Baker said the prosecutor’s office wants to reach out to young people who experience trauma from violent crime.
“Our institutions and schools, but especially the students and the staff, feel the toll of violence every day,” said Baker. “That toll is felt both inside and outside of the classroom. We must find new ways to help them cope with those impacts. We should start by letting them know we want to help and simply listening to them.”
The summit is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the KCPS Board of Education auditorium.