New report examines rising child safety danger as Durham seeks gun violence solutions

Joel Brown Image
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
New county report examines rising child safety danger in Durham
Durham County commissioners adopted a new report that reveals the key concerns impacting child safety in Durham.

In a unanimous vote, Monday night, Durham County commissioners adopted a new report that reveals the key concerns impacting child safety in Durham. One most pressing issues: the 18 people shot in Durham so far this year under the age of 18. Four of them have died.

"The other thing that I'd like to highlight are the recommendations around gun safety and gun violence," Commissioner Wendy Jacobs said as the report was presented at the commission meeting.

The nine-page report from Durham County's Child Protection and Child Fatality Prevention Teams recommends providing more free gun locks and gun education to residents and continued attention to gun violence that stresses the impact on victims' family, friends, classmates and teachers along with the toll it takes on the county's education system.

The county's report comes one week after Durham Mayor Elaine O'Neal delivered her State of the City address.

"We have to figure out why our young people are killing each other," Mayor O'Neal said in her address after pledging to do more to address the root causes of the gun violence crisis. "We have to invest in education, health care, jobs, jobs training, as well as affordable housing. And, make sure it's readily available for all income levels."

Back at the county commissioners' meeting, there was a major focus on infant deaths tied to dangerous sleep conditions. More Durham babies are dying because they're sharing a bed, according to the child safety teams. The reports authors blamed a history and culture of bed-sharing and a lack of funding to educate the public of the risks.

"We have so many challenges that we face in this community that feel intractable, that we feel we would never be able to solve these systemic challenges. (Child sleep conditions) is one where there really are steps we can take."

County commissioners expressed a willingness to fund some of the recommendations in next year's budget. Meanwhile, Mayor O'Neal announced last week, a city-wide moment of silence for young victims of gun violence is set for May 11.


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