The breakout of crime (like every summer) in Chicago and around this country is heartbreaking, especially for all the innocent victims, most recently 11-year old Shamiya Adams who was shot by a stray bullet. The gunshot shattered the window at her friend's sleepover. It tragically crashed their party and ended her life on Friday night, July 18th.
The victim would have been in the 6th grade class this fall. At the time of the crime, she and her friends feasted on marshmallows, juice and chocolate.
Earlier Saturday, Shamiya’s great-grandmother, who joined about 20 other relatives in the Mount Sinai waiting room, pointed out the girl’s twin brother fighting to stay awake in his chair.
“He said he wasn’t gonna sleep until he saw his sister,” said the great-grandmother, who declined to give her name.
That's not the only shooting this last weekend in Chicago, there were at least 22 more (according to the Chicago Tribune) that were reported and recorded.
My co-worker, a mother of three grown children, recounted her son was an innocent victim of gun violence. She couldn't imagine raising kids in today's unsafe and horrific world.
News of these tragic and appalling crimes paralyze you. They threaten our loved ones, especially our children.
That bleak reality warrants change on at least a couple different levels such as new gun legislation and a cultural shift in society regarding violence.
Society must better engage children through constant dialogue to promote violence awareness and prevention. We must also work to end the cycle of poverty, which is tangled in acts of violence.
The United States should examine other countries with lower homicide rates as potential gun legislation models. For example, the laws in the United Kingdom tightly control firearms.
In fact, a friend from England recently told me how there are strict rules around anyone who has a gun for a special reason and that person may be subject to a gun audit at any time to ensure it is safely stored.
Mental health must also be factored into our gun and healthcare legislation.
Necessary new legislation and it's potential impact will not happen overnight nor will it exclusively solve our grave problem with violence.
Protecting kids should also start with actively engaging them rather than depending on media and technology to distract them. Technology can mean easy access to entertainment where guns are glamorized. No wonder kids are so attracted to playing with guns.
Parents and caretakers must closely monitor kids' access and use of entertainment such as video, television and movies.
Adults must talk to kids about risks related to everything ranging from mental health to violence. Kids must also understand their actions will result in consequences as a deterrent to gangs and drugs.
All kids may lack role models to drive these conversations and need more opportunities. Grass roots initiatives from upstanding members of communities facing economic challenges and external volunteers must also inspire these at-risk-kids to turn away from the temptation of drugs and gangs while working for an honest living. This should help foster a positive and empowered community that can partner with police to help stop violence.
I tossed and turned last night after a fun and hectic weekend with talk about violence intertwined in our conversations.
I hope our dream for a safer tomorrow will someday be a reality for all. Meanwhile, our hearts and prayers go out to all the victims. Bottom line, gun violence must be stopped.
Filed under: wellness