Gun fatalities are a growing problem nationwide. In Cumberland County, gun-related crimes and incidents are also on the rise. To decrease these devastating numbers, the Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition’s County Workgroup spearheaded a three part Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Initiative. The Initiative includes gun safety education, designating June as Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Month, and the high school Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Public Service Announcement Video Contest. The Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Initiative was designed to implement programs to educate the public on gun safety and bring awareness to the growing issue of gun violence.
The Initiative’s efforts culminated at the Stand up for Gun Safety Event held on June 8th, 2016. Coalition Members and community partners gathered at the Cumberland County College to celebrate the accomplishments of the CCPYDC’s County Workgroup and thank the individuals who helped with the implementation of the Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Initiative.
Awareness is an important piece in bringing about change in our local communities. To help bring visibility to the Initiative, the Coalition attended municipal council meetings across the county to present a resolution declaring June as Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Month. Youth from the Boys and Girls Club of Vineland spoke and presented a video they created, bringing attention to how gun violence can affect community members. As a result of this initiative, June is officially Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Month in Cumberland County, the first in New Jersey.
The following municipalities adopted June as Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Month (click to see a copy of the resolution):
- Hopewell Township
- Maurice River
- Cumberland County
In order to include our community’s future leaders in an issue that affects their neighborhoods, the Coalition sought local youth involvement through the Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Public Service Announcement Video Contest, open to all Cumberland County high school students.
Students were asked to create a 30 second PSA video on the topic of gun safety or gun violence awareness. Winning videos received prizes donated by local community partners and are scheduled to be aired on the local SNJ channel.
The Coalition, in collaboration with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Cumberland Empowerment Zone, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers, adapted Eddie Eagle’s gun safety program for use in area middle schools. Middle school students are learning the importance of gun safety and what to do if they encounter a gun.
The program has been rolled out in:
- Cherry Street School, Bridgeton
- Landis Middle School, Vineland
- Lakeside Middle School, Millville
- Port Norris School, Port Norris
In addition to administering education directly to youth, the Coalition designed a Gun Safety and Violence Awareness Parents Guide, with information about how to talk to children about gun safety and keep them safe if they own a gun themselves. The brochures were funded by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office.