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Senator Rachel May's State of Our Youth Rally focuses on violence in schools

sravan kodali.jpg
NYS Senator Rachel May
Christian Brothers Academy 11th grader speaks at the 2022 State of Our Youth Rally about the threat gun violence poses to students.

Recent mass shootings at an elementary school in Texas and a Tops Market in Buffalo were on the minds of students and panelists at State Senator Rachel May’s State of our Youth Rally.

“We are all feeling like we’re under siege and this issue of violence isn’t something our children should be growing up with, but it is a reality,” May said.

High-schoolers from across the Syracuse area attended the rally virtually. The topic of this year’s event was violence in schools. May says her youth advisory council chooses the focus each year, and this is the third of four conferences they chose to discuss violence in schools.

Christian Brothers Academy eleventh grader Sravan Kodali said reducing gun violence for students is something legislators need to prioritize.

“Gun violence in America has reached record breaking numbers, but it didn’t just spring up randomly in the past few weeks despite it being all over the news right now. The lack of legislation passed to reform gun laws has continued to perpetrate this unprecedented rise in gun violence,” Kodali said.

May highlighted that New York now has a law on the books that would allow people to sue a gun manufacturer or retailer for selling a gun that is then used in a violent crime. Gun makers challenged the law, but a federal judge earlier this week ruled the legislation is constitutional. But May said more needs to be done in the moment for those suffering from the trauma caused by gun violence.

“Because I think people who are living with this kind of trauma, it’s really hard to concentrate in school. It’s hard to do well in school. It’s hard to hold down a job, or to feel comfortable even dropping your kids off at school,” May said.

Panelists also discussed gun violence in the Central New York community and shared resources for coping.

Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, economy, and identity.