I am a 17 year-old student at Hamilton High West approaching my senior year. I was born and raised in Trenton and was recently asked, “What is something you feel should be talked about in your community?” I thought about it, and the first thing that came to mind was that our safety isn’t a priority. I then thought about the senseless killings, especially the lives of those lost so young. I couldn’t help but to think if someone I know would be next or what if I’m next?
I began to reflect on the factors which may affect a teenager's mental health. In these developmental years, their surroundings, home, circumstances, and friends can have a serious impact on them and their behavior. Feeling safe and secure in our homes and communities is fundamental to our ability to work, thrive and enjoy our lives, especially during these already difficult times.
While there is no way to completely eliminate risk, as a community we can make changes to ensure safety and security for all, while cultivating a community that cares for each other. I fear for what can be next for the Trenton community, but instead of waiting for crimes to occur, I believe that taking a public health approach could offer those in need the tools to detect, prevent and treat unsafe conditions. Let’s prevent these things from happening as much as possible, all while building strength and resiliency within the community.
Media coverage of crimes seem to focus on the sensationalism of the situation rather than the factors that put communities at risk. Recognizing safety as a community issue allows local governments to prioritize prevention and to understand how crime and health conditions within those communities have similar statistics. Every community needs assessment. Policy changes on gun laws, prescription medication abuse, as well as ordinances and regulations that are designed to guide or influence positive behavior should be a priority.
This will require a change that would affect all aspects of our community. My goal is to be able to graduate and become a traveling anesthesiologist in the future. While in school, I asked another student, “Where will you be in 10 years?” He responded with, “Out of college if I ain’t dead.” This shouldn’t even be a thought. I feel that I have to leave Trenton to strive to become my full potential because unfortunately, I don’t know if I can achieve it here. I don’t want to achieve my goals and then have something happen to me. I’ve had family and friends leave Trenton for better lives, but we should be able to live to our potential in our hometown. I’m not sure of where my future will take me, but until Trenton leaders strive to truly help and build the community, I know for certain I’m not going to stay here.
Yeato Prall is a life-long Trenton resident currently interning at the Trenton Journal for the summer.