Investment in at-risk communities needed to reduce gun violence, U of T's Jooyoung Lee

August 14, 2019 by U of T News and School of Cities Staff

Following an unusual spate of gun violence, University of Toronto sociologist Jooyoung Lee spoke to TVO's The Agenda about the need for investment in at-risk communities to reduce gun crimes. 

Lee, a faculty affiliate of the School of Cities and Munk School Centre for the Study of the United States, appeared on the program after 14 separate gun-related incidents in the Greater Toronto Area over the August long weekend. The municipal, provincial and federal governments have responded by announcing $4.5 million in additional funding for Toronto police to tackle gun violence. 

The recent spike in gun violence was not a “one-off,” Lee said on The Agenda, pointing to police statistics that show the number of shooting-related injuries in Toronto more than doubling between 2014 and this year. 

Lee, who appeared on the show along with community activist Louis March, called for a greater emphasis on prevention through community investment. 

“Why not create a society where the most at risk are not likely to get involved in situations, where they could become a victim or an offender?” Lee said. “Why not create a society full of safety nets that deflects and funnels at-risk youth into other activities that could help them avoid these situations?”

In an op-ed published in Globe and Mail the same week, Lee wrote: 

"These are all hidden costs whenever someone gets shot. So rather than work with a half-written ledger, Canada’s cities are overdue to understand the full price of the issue. Through that lens, upstream solutions to prevent shootings from happening in the first place start looking like a fantastic bargain – both for our governments’ budgets, and for our safety and emotional well-being."

Republished in part from U of T News