I Care Movement Hosts Peace Walk Saturday, October 2nd

In 2009, 213 people under the age of 25 were murdered in Chicago. The vast majority of these victims were young, African-American males. I have to imagine that if a violent outbreak of similar magnitude occurred among white, middle-class children it would elicit national hysteria and become the subject of endless media coverage (just look back to the Columbine shootings a few years ago).

While the gruesome death of Fenger High School student Derrion Albert garnered the attention of the New York Times this fall, Chicago’s violence problem has hardly been given the consideration it deserves. Just think—in 2008 314 soldiers were slain in Iraq, while 509 people were murdered in Chicago.

It is no exaggeration to describe Chicago’s South and West Sides as war-zones. These are places where innocent and healthy children live with the very real possibility of death each day.

As a teacher in West Englewood I often witnessed the ways in which gun violence impacted the safety and emotional well being of my students. To share just a few examples:

  • During one staff meeting a school social worker shared with me that one of her students was experiencing trauma after a stray bullet pierced his thigh during the walk home from school.
  • Two of my own students entered my classroom with bandages covering bullet wounds on their arms.
  • Another student of mine disappeared from school after a gang fight sent him into a coma and left him with debilitating brain injuries.
  • One afternoon my lesson was interrupted by a volley of gunshots outside our window.
  • During the first six weeks of school last year– three students were murdered at the school where I taught.

When an inspirational speaker visited our school during “Peace Day”—he asked the student audience how many of them knew someone who had died from gun violence. Slowly, students began to lift their arms. After a few moments there was a sea of raised hands—too many to count.

Community violence not only imperils the safety of young people. It also fills their lives with grief, fear and uncertainty. Children living in a toxic environment are more likely to have difficulty concentrating on school work, pursing goals and planning for their future. Exposure to violence can also cause stress, anxiety and more serious mood disorders. Furthermore, community violence depletes the energy and optimism of community leaders, teachers, social workers and other professionals who serve inner-city children.

I’m sharing my thoughts on this topic today because on Saturday, October 2nd, the ‘I Care Movement”  (www.theicaremovement.com) will be hosting a 5K “Peace Walk” to raise money for anti-violence programming. (In order to register to participate or learn more follow the link above). I believe this event is a great opportunity for concerned Chicagoans to generate awareness around the youth violence epidemic. It is an outrage that poor children in the world’s wealthiest nation experience higher mortality rates than children living in some of the world’s poorest, and most turbulent nations. If this issue moves you, then please consider walking, volunteering, or making a donation to the I Care Movement  Peace Walk.

    • buzz cut
    • August 6th, 2010

    we need justin bieber to get on the anti-gun violence bandwagon…he could seriously make a difference with those long, beautiful locks.


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