Jayla Nickens, a DC resident and 2022 high school graduate.

College applications, homework, a part-time job, family responsibilities, and what to wear to prom — those are the typical activities of a high school senior in the United States. But today’s students aren’t living in typical times, and we’re not only talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Nowadays, violent crime, coupled with mass shootings, is a daily reality for students. Being a part of Generation Active Shooter Drill and then worrying about your safety in your neighborhood has an undeniable effect on kids — but just how much of an effect?

Answering that question is why Jayla Nickens, 18, decided to find out how violent crime rates were impacting her and her peers’ education. She spent her senior year at Washington, D.C.’s Friendship Collegiate Academy matching SAT scores with violent crime rates in the city’s wards. 

Violent crime has been on the rise nationwide during the pandemic, and it’s reached levels we haven’t seen since 2016, according to FBI data

Jayla Nickens decided to find out how violent crime rates were impacting her and her peers’ education.

In 2020, nearly 102,000 victims of violent crime were between the age of 10 and 19, and an additional 28,000 were under 10, according to FBI data. This is an increase in both age ranges compared to 2019, and up even higher than 2018. The most common place to experience violent crime for the last decade has been in a residence.

And, in 2020, guns became the leading cause of death among children for the first time, surpassing motor vehicles.

Though her report is not available for public viewing, Nickens shared her findings exclusively with Word In Black. Her research showed that there’s a negative correlation between SAT scores and violent crime, and it fueled her to want to find more answers.

Nickens, who will start her freshman year at American University in fall 2022, spoke with Word In Black about her reporting project.

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