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LETTERS

Letter: Education is powerful when fighting violence

MacKenzie Beattie
Special to the Rockford Register Star

Violence shatters lives and fractures communities in its shadows.

Violent crimes, including assaults, homicides, rapes, and armed robberies, have steadily increased in Rockford. Data shows that the overall crime rate in Rockford is 4,065.2 per 100,00 people. That is 74.91% above the national average of 2,324.2 per 100,000 people.

With rates of violent crimes continuing to rise, we can focus our attention on violence prevention.

Together as a community we can make Rockford’s biggest attraction the Anderson Japanese Gardens or Rockford Art Museum again, and not the crime statistics.

To address the issue of violence, we need to assess the root cause which includes lack of access to education.

Education is powerful when fighting violence. Quality education and support services being available to our youth allows them to learn skills and knowledge to create a better future for themselves.

Focusing on education means that we need to ensure that all children have access to quality schools and resources from a young age. This means we need to address disparities in educational funding, improve school facilities, and provide support services to meet the needs of the students in all schools, like Kennedy Middle School and East High School.

By equipping our youth with quality education doors open that build a peaceful community.

Additionally, efforts to support youth in schools and communities must be prioritized. This includes implementing evidence-based programs that provide alternatives to violence.

Some action steps that we can take to benefit our community include creating new after-school programs and funding current programs and mentorship initiatives for at-risk youth, like ARP ESSER. This is a current program available free to all Rockford Public School students.

By focusing on supporting youth and the community can help build a stronger relationship that can fight violence.

As a community we have a responsibility to invest in our youth for their future and their community where violence has no place. We can support our schools by prioritizing education, empowering our youth and building a safer community to make a more resilient Rockford for generations to come.

The 815 community is strong, yet fractured, and by focusing on violence prevention, we can gradually mend the divisions that violence has caused.

MacKenzie Beattie is graduate student at Western Michigan University from Belvidere.