When children are killed in the early hours of the morning outside their homes, the public has a series of questions and interpretations that sometimes place the blame on the victims and their parents.
What is the boy so late? Where were his or her parents? Does the child have a history of crime?
Verbal inquiry, even in its accusations, is how we sometimes process and try to understand the rampant gun violence in our country. Collective discussion and righteous outrage serve as a sounding board, leading to sometimes misguided knee-jerk efforts to stop shootings — when the reality is that too many Americans, including children, are pointing guns.
Take the case of the Chicago City Council, which responded to the deadly shooting by extending the hours of its rarely enforced curfew for minors in the spring. Days earlier, Mayor Lori Lightfoot had limited the time minors could stay in Millennium Park.
Some city residents have welcomed the stricter policies. Others, including some experts on crime, are more skeptical because research has shown that curfews are ineffective at keeping children safe.
They certainly didn’t work for 7-year-old Akeem Briscoe, who was killed last week by a stray bullet while washing his hands while preparing dinner at his Humboldt Park home.
Akeem wasn’t staying up late or hanging out with teenage troublemakers. He was where a kid his age should be, yet he became a victim of the gun violence that is ravaging our nation.
To America’s shame, Akeem is far from the only child whose life has been lost in a safe place by someone who was engaged in a shooting outside.
Two years ago in Chicago, Amariah Jones, 13, was shot in the throat while dancing for her mother inside their Austin home, and 10-year-old Lena Nunez was grazed in the head by a bullet that came through her Logan Square apartment.
There is no shortage of similar senseless tragedies elsewhere.
Four years ago in Milwaukee, 13-year-old Sandra Park, who had written an award-winning essay about her fear of gun violence, was struck by a bullet while watching television. This past April, 3-year-old Devin Page Jr. was shot and killed while sleeping in his Baton Rogue home. A few months later, in June, 11-year-old Sania Pugh was shot and killed while sleeping in Detroit.
Gun violence is now the leading cause of child death in the United States, and among children killed by guns in high-income countries, 91% of these murders occur in the US, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. . Having a weapon inside the home certainly increases the risk of a gun-related death or injury, but even if there are no guns on the property, there’s no guarantee that no one, not even children, will die when strangers lurk nearby. Pull a trigger.
About one-third of stray bullet victims are children, and about half are girls and women, according to a 2012 study by Dr. According to Garen Wintamute’s study. The study found that about 40% of victims who were shot while at home and 70% were in their residence.
“Victims of stray bullets are essentially ‘collateral damage’ and are usually disconnected from the events that lead to their injury or death,” Wintamute said when the study was released. “They are innocent bystanders and have no opportunity to flee or take other defensive measures.”
Wintemute told us that he has not done recent research on stray bullet shootings and that he is not aware of other experts’ current studies, prompting us to call for additional and updated analyses. The more data we collect, the more evidence we have of the problem.
But aside from that particular research, the daily headlines we see, and the continuing research of Wintamute and his peers on other aspects of gun violence, it’s clear that America’s deadly endemic spares no one, no matter the location or circumstance.
Akeem was grieving over his father, who died of heart surgery days before he was killed.
The notorious gang members who were shooting in an alley outside Akeem’s house didn’t target Cherukan like a mass shooter who wanted to cut down anyone in their path.
Society says the victims in the latter cases were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
What words are left for Akeem and the other children who have spent their lives playing, sleeping, laughing with their best friends?
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