Homicides in Winston-Salem

#WinstonSalem, this is an issue. We must work together to reverse this occurrence. This requires a city, county, and school system collaboration. Just because one governmental entity has direct jurisdiction does not preclude us from working together.

We must support evidence-based, best practices that work to reverse the issues of negative peer groups, trauma, gang activity, low literacy rates, a lack of education, and adverse family/household dynamics. Evidence shows that literacy, educational attainment, and job skills, as well as parenting skills help to improve outcomes. There is opportunity to partner with local agencies, the school system, the recreation centers, churches, the community college, and others to provide programming within the communities to improve outcomes in these areas. We must work as a collective unit to provide a comprehensive unified front to address these concerns.

As the former co-director of the Summer Youth Employment Program, I know that the City of Winston-Salem (in partnership with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development) provides funding for youth from low- to moderate-income households to learn soft skills and have a paid internship, which for some has led to long-term employment. As the former coordinator for the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, I know that there are dollars allocated annually to Forsyth County for programming and services to prevent and mitigate juvenile crime. Today, those dollar amount to almost $1 million. And as a former participant of the Teen Court program, I know the value and impact of second chances.

Additionally, we must address the mental health aspects of stress, trauma, and adverse childhood experiences (i.e., the use of drugs or alcohol in the home, abuse, etc.), particularly for our boys and men. If you review the information related to the homicides that occurred in the city this past year, you will see that most involved males, either as victims or perpetrators. Additionally, if you look a little deeper, you will see that about 15 who were impacted on either side were 19 years old or younger. We have to move away from toxic masculinity towards more civil and emotionally sound ways to address emotions, stress, and conflict management.

We must find alternatives to policies that send youth away from safe and controlled spaces into the environments that we later combat through police involvement.

We must implement common sense gun laws. And we must find ways to remove illegal guns and illegal firearm possession from our streets.

We must view this issue as both a public safety and a public health issue. We must address the root causes of homicide and other crimes. We must make school and community programming relevant and engaging. We must give our youth and adults a vision for what’s possible.

We can stop this trend. We MUST stop this trend! As City Council Member for the #EastWard, I will be the catalyst for positive change. I will ask the hard questions and challenge the status quo. We can no longer sit idly by and expect for someone else to deal with it or think that the problem will just go away if we ignore it. I will continue to put #PeopleOverPolitics!

Join me and let us #RingtheBell for safe communities. #RingtheBell for engaging and impactful programming and services. #RingtheBell for healthy residents and healthy communities. #RingtheBell for Kismet Loftin-Bell for #CityCouncil for the #EastWard. #Vote#Kismet4EastWard

Kismet A. Loftin-Bell

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