Two for Tuesday: Shaker Heights Youth Present Violence as a School Culture

August 29, 2023

During the summer of 2023, eight students, three graduating seniors and five 10th and 11th graders, engaged in the 4th annual P.E.E.R.S. program.

P.E.E.R.S. stands for Positive Engagement Encouraging Resilience in Students. The program is a 6-week, summer job facilitated by MyCom’s Lead Agency for Youth Employment, Y.O.U. (Youth Opportunities Unlimited) where students are taught and practice extensive research skills on a topic critical to their lives. The initiative methodology was based on steps created by the Youth Participatory Action Research.

The Shaker Heights students chose Violence as a School Culture to research and understand.

According to facts presented on the Sand Hook Promise, “Since Columbine in 1999, more than 338,000 students in the U.S. have experienced gun violence at school. There were more school shootings in 2022 -46- than in any year since Columbine. This mirrored America’s broader rise in gun violence as it emerged from the pandemic. However, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security . Research shows that  if we “know the signs” of gun violence, we can prevent it and reverse the trend.”

Key takeaways from the research were: (1) staff felt pressure to hep students while not knowing what the root cause of violence is; (2) the schools should increase skill building to help proactively combat violence and encouraging students to settle differences in alternative way;, and (3) Students' mental health is vulnerable in a violent school environment.

Recommendations were made at three levels 1) school impact: adjusting the existing PBIS framework; 2) legislative impact: implement bills to further support restorative practices; and, 3) community/other stakeholder impact: cultivating community outreach and trainings for local businesses.

The students presented their research and key takeaways to the community at on July 27 at the Shaker Heights High School.

View a copy of their slides here.


  • “MyCom Youth Development Initiative aims to engage via education, such amazing out-of-school opportunities as they recognize that youth who are bullied are more likely to feel disconnected from school."
    Curtis Benjamin
  • "MyCom has extended hundreds of youth exceptional opportunities to grow, expand their knowledge and express their voice in so many ways. I can honestly say that the youth are not the only ones who are learning, growing and having wonderful exposure opportunities. This adult is a beneficiary of countless blessing as well."
    Brenda Pryor
    MyCom Coordinator
  • "It was amazing, and really made me think of my community more, and how I can change it"
    Brandan Newton
    Anton Grdina FLOW Participant

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