Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Homicides

Oakland just had its 42nd homicide of 2006. Last year at this time, I think there were 18. The tribune ran a story about last year's homicides that is interesting - also one about the families of some of the victims.

One of the people killed is the uncle of a student in my class. He owed someone money, so that someone killed him. I have not yet known any of the homicide victims in the years that I've been here, but I have no doubt that I will eventually. That is not to say I haven't been affected by the violence - most of the students I've had have had a relative or neighbor killed, and many of them witnessed it. One child saw her dad shot in the face when she was six years old. One boy's dad was stabbed to death - luckily the kid wasn't living with him at the time. Another victim a few years back was an honors high school student - the shooters meant to get someone else. Once someone's uncle was killed because he was Mexican. Someone else's cousin was shot in the head (in front of her) by the rival gang from down the street.

Most of these kids come to school the next day because they don't have anywhere else to go. It's not like they're going to get grief counseling, and everyone else is just as traumatized so they can't really help the kids. It's a strange mix of being such an everyday occurrence that it seems normal and no one having any idea whatsoever of what to do. So many of the kids are here with PTSD trying to learn - or just sitting in the chair shaking, as the case may be. And I don't know what to do. Except just be there.

A side note: the teachers' union scheduled a strike for tomorrow. (I'm not striking - I listed my reasons here). The district was hiring subs for $300/day, saying that they would not stop the children from coming to school. Today, AFTER SCHOOL, they decided that we just won't have school tomorrow. But since they didn't decide until after school, parents don't even have one day notice to find somewhere for their kids to be. So many of them will be on the street or at home alone. I can't decide if I'm more upset at the union or the superintendent, but I certainly don't think anyone around here is putting the kids first like they all claim to.

So, if you pray, please pray for this situation.

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