You look at the numbers and you just can’t believe it’s so, but it is so. Alex Kotlowitz, the author of There Are No Children here and current write in residence at Northwestern, write in a recent New York Times article (“The Price of Public Violence”) that according the Chicago Police Department and University of Chicago Crime Lab, in Chicago, since 1997 up to now, 8,083 people have been murdered, and 36,000 people have been shot and wounded.
Almost 45,000 people shot and killed or wounded.
ALMOST 45,000 IN THESE PAST FIFTEEN YEARS!!
Think of the impact this miasma of violence always lurking in your neighborhood would have on your children.
Kotlowitz spent some time this summer with those adults and students associated with Harper High School on Chicago’s South Side. The previous school year (prepare yourself for this, oh readers) Harper High School lost eight current or former students to gun violence and 21 others were shot and wounded.
Eight killed, 21 shot or wounded. One high school. Imagine yourself driving to work there each morning. Imagine the students pulling on shoes with that destination. What think you about their frame of mind? What lessons would you prepare?
As one social worker reported “You’ve got kids walking around who are just on guard with everything and everyone. It’s almost like you don’t have a moment to rest.”
Remember when you had that kind of day at work? At least odds are you weren’t worried that weaponry might be involved. Imagine that being your atmosphere every day. Every day. And you wonder about the drop out rate in the city.
Kotlowitz reports on a dire social possibility: “the Department of Justice released a little-noticed report that suggested that children exposed to community violence might turn to violence themselves as ‘a source of power, prestige, security, or even belongingness.’” Has there been not similar study done of those who abuse having been abused themselves, and become predator as a counterbalance to the predation visited upon them earlier?
Life in violence smacks of post-traumatic stress disorder, and soon it will be discovered that our wounded warriors never leave the streets of their town, begin to suffer its effects as children, perpetuate violence when opportunity is presented.
As I have asked in previous blogs, what is it going to take before these issues are meaningfully addressed? You may see this staggering impact of violence upon our children numbly, like driving under the IDOT signs that post the number of citizens killed on our highway, while texting maybe. Maybe we need to see the impact of this violence daily, a virtual Emmett Till-like open-casket view of this impact—murdered children, burned-out children, violence-inured children, students without affect, students without hope, students attending funerals of their classmates, students with post-traumatic stress symptoms. Maybe we need to see them as we commute. Maybe we need to see them as we converse. Maybe we need to see them in our homes. Will that do it?