BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – In just one week’s time, Birmingham lost multiple teenagers to gun violence and a third teen was shot but survived as a violent trend city-wide continues.

Two of those teens went to Jackson-Olin High School. Those students returned to the classroom this week without Jada White, 16, and Caleb Whitt, 17.

Principal Nichole Williams said the school does all that they can from security to extra officers on site to keep the kids as safe as possible in the building walls, but she is asking the community to step up and help when kids leave the classroom. She said the school is just one piece of the puzzle, but it takes all pieces to guarantee safety for her students who are like family.

“We never want to see what we saw on the news ever, ever again,” Williams said. “Moving forward, we’re going to continue to be positive, we’re going to continue to send them out with smiles on their faces. We’re going to continue to motivate them and we’re going to continue to provide the rich environment they need to be successful and safe.”

Williams said she is letting the students at school help shape how their classmates will be remembered and memorialized.

Birmingham City Councilor LaTonya Tate just returned from Washington, D.C. last week where they were working to get resources from the federal level to help curb this violent trend.

Tate said gun violence is a public safety epidemic. Right now, she is working on building an ecosystem of trained, credible messengers strategically placed across the city to positively interfere when conflict arises.

“Kids have to realize that, what I’m seeing, they’re so desensitized to violence that they think the only way to solve violence is picking up a gun and shooting,” Tate said. “First of all, it’s illegal to be in possession of a firearm and you’re not old enough and there’s no winners in this.”  

Tate said the answer is a transformative restorative mental health approach where nonprofits, corporate organizations, faith leaders, schools and police communities all come together and work together in one ecosystem.

“People know that these resources are available from mental health to those that are returning home from incarceration, we want to make sure that they have a leg up,” Tate said. “All of the resources that people need to be sustainable in the community.”

Tate just met with about 25 nonprofits to come up with this collective. She said it takes time to make sure the right people are in the right place, but she plans to lead this initiative to help.