Philadelphia will screen sixth through eighth graders for weapons

Philadelphia will screen sixth through eighth graders for weapons

Philadelphia’s sixth through eighth grade students will be subject to periodic weapons screenings starting on Monday, the school district announced Thursday in a letter to parents. The screenings will take place at six schools a day. They will be conducted at every middle school, as well as elementary schools with middle school grades, at least once before the end of the school year.

The district said it is implementing the new security measures due to an increase in gun violence and weapons found at elementary and middle schools. For example, Channel 6ABC reported that a gun was found inside a student’s backpack at Juniata Park Academy in North Philadelphia last month. Children in Philadelphia make up an increasing number of gun violence victims and perpetrators — a crisis city and school officials have struggled to address during the pandemic.

“What our kids are being exposed to, what our leadership is being exposed to, is not normal. We have allowed this to get normalized in our space. That is not acceptable,” said Kevin Bethel, chief of safety for Philadelphia schools, during a discussion of youth and gun violence hosted by Chalkbeat last month.

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