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Kenneth Barnes

2009 National Crime Victim Service Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

Kenneth Barnes | National Crime Victim Service Award
ROOT, Inc.
Washington, DC

For Kenneth Barnes, the gun violence that ended his son’s life translated into his future commitment to individuals and communities affected by gun violence. Since his son’s violent death, Barnes has dedicated himself to offering hope to others affected by gun crimes and to reducing gun violence and its devastating impact on families and the community. 

In 2002, Barnes started Reaching Out to Others Together (ROOT), an organization to address the impact of gun and youth violence. ROOT’s mission is to advocate, educate, and intervene on behalf of homicide victims, as well as to motivate and mobilize communities to take proactive measures to reduce gun violence crimes. 

In 2004, Barnes volunteered in a Southeast Washington, D.C., school where he assisted with peer group counseling sessions that paid particular attention to children who had lost family members to gun violence. Barnes became aware that these young people were failing in school, acting out, disrespectful, depressed, and had lost hope due to the social and emotional impact of gun violence in their lives. 

In response, he developed the ROOT Impact of Violence Survey, which questioned youth about their exposure to gun violence and whether they received intervention. He conducted surveys in Washington, D.C., Prince Georges County, Maryland, and New Orleans, Louisiana, which indicated how much more needed to be done. 

His efforts continued as he addressed the problems of Washington, D.C.’s Youth Services Administration, currently known as the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, which led to the agency’s reorganization. 

In December 2003, Barnes was honored by the District of Columbia with a proclamation and a day in his honor for creating a campaign (with the help of a Howard University graduate student), called Guns Aside, which is well-known locally and nationally. 

In addition, there is a bill being introduced by Congressman Bobby Rush that calls on Congress to address the epidemic of gun violence and establish pilot projects in targeted cities to reduce incidents of youth and gun violence. Barnes’ dedication and efforts to help victims of gun violence, and his faith that addressing the “root” of the problem can effect change, honors the memory and life of his son and other victims of gun violence across our Nation. 

Kenneth Barnes was nominated by the Office for Victims of Crime.