Don’t Shoot. They Want To Grow Up

A stage. About 20 persons. Theme: stopping violence.

But how?

A police officer who lost a child to violence. A probation officer. Two doctors. A gangbanger leading a new life. A mother of a child in an Illinois Youth Center. A neighborhood activist. A woman who turned her home into a place for kids to escape violence. And others. They speak.

A doctor says he does what he can to control the damage that he faces.

But, he adds, “we have to realize that we are all connected.”

A mother talks about how her son’s friend was killed and how her son went off in rage, got a gun, and got in trouble.

“Most of the kids out here don’t have anyone to talk to,” she says.

The former gangbanger says the gangs need to be stopped.

The police officer says stopping the violence means stopping the silence that he says stops police from doing their work.

The community activist says police need to know that the community doesn’t always trust the police. “The system needs to check itself too,” he says.

Who is helping the youngsters coming out of the detention centers?

Where are the school social workers?

What Works?

Before these folks spoke at the town hall recently put on by Columbia Links, the team of youth journalists who had searched for solutions, told what they had found. They said that intervention of the sort carried out by Cease Fire works. They said that violence leaves a physical and emotional stain that lingers long and which needs attention and a broad public health approach to the healing.

They said it takes a community to speak out against empty houses, and street gangs and to list the needs that would otherwise go waiting. Block clubs are a solid solution and they have the results to show, they said.

Dealing with gangs is one solution. But a longer range solution, they said, is preventing the problem and that means helping youths and families and which ultimately would “inoculate young people of the community against violence.”

A lot of voices and no lack of solutions. A heartbreaking drama that goes on and on and that demands a peaceful ending.

This is where newspapers and radio stations and blogs need to step forward to shift through these solutions because that’s what people want.

And that’s the glue that ties the media to the people it serves.

what do you think? talk to me.

the voice you are hearing is Mark Hallett of the McCormick Foundation





  • […] Which brings me to my point, in my hometown last year, 440+ school aged children were shot, 60+ were killed. A few names like that of Heaven Sutton, a seven year old girl who was shot and killed outside of her house while standing with her mother where they were  selling snacks; made the national news, most dead brown kids are simply a footnote.  Think about that for a moment, a little kid outside her house selling snacks with her mother is shot and killed. Heaven’s story made the national spotlight but most of the 60+ kids killed in 2012 in Chicago weren’t deemed important enough for their stories to be shared far and wide. Just another day in Black America, where violence has reached epic proportions and kids no longer dream of growing up to become a teacher or an astronaut, they dream that they simply live long enough to grow up. […]