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Alexandria city council addresses youth violence after 18-year-old stabbed to death in fight

The Youth Safety and Resilience Concept recommends creating a task force and holding conversations with teenagers.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — City leaders in Alexandria want to improve teen safety and reduce violence among students following the stabbing death of an Alexandria City High School senior

Mayor Justin Wilson and Councilwoman Alyia Gaskins drafted a memorandum known as the Youth Safety and Resilience Concept to better address mental health needs, identify challenges and needs and incorporate community engagement. 

"Whenever you have kids feeling like they need to resolve their problems with weapons and violence, there is a problem that we still have work to do no matter how big those numbers are and no matter how many times this occurs or doesn't occur," Wilson said. 

In May, 18-year-old Luis Hernandez died after being stabbed in a large fight near his high school. 

In the memorandum, Wilson and Gaskins said, "We must engage a diverse range of stakeholders to listen to the experiences of our young people, learn what is at the root of youth trauma and violence, and act."

The target goals include: 

  • Address youth trauma and mental health 
  • Coordinate across sectors to identify challenges, needs and opportunities 
  • Develop sustainable strategies to align services and existing initiatives 
  • Identify metrics and transparent processes to hold ourselves accountable 
  • Target investments at identified gaps 
  • Prioritize equity 
  • Take a community approach to engage the public and private sector’s partnership and participation in supporting our city’s youth

"A big part of this proposal is actually going out and listening to our students and listening to our kids," Wilson said. 

The plan wants to create a special task force with members of youth agencies, better understand data and policies surrounding mental health, substance abuse and gang violence. It also wants to partner with kids and youth services to host a series of conversations by next month.

Wilson cites COVID-19 as a disrupter to services such as mental health treatment and mentoring that would normally improve safety and resiliency. 

The city council will discuss the memorandum at Tuesday night's meeting. 

RELATED: Teen arrested for stabbing death of 18-year-old during fight near Alexandria City High School

RELATED: Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent resigning

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