Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not Safe in Her Own Bed

Some of you who are local may have heard about this.  A six-year old girl - not at the school I used to work at but one nearby - was shot while asleep in her bed. Now, I’ve written about several kids who have been shot and killed (thankfully, this little girl is going to make it although it’s an experience she should never have had to go through) and I see two kinds of responses.  Primarily, people are compassionate and express what I consider to be the appropriate emotions: sadness, incredulity, and anger.  Occasionally, however, there’s someone either commenting on my blog or on the story that I linked to basically saying “Well, they live in the ghetto, what do they expect?”  I hate that reaction.  I understand it, especially if the person writing is afraid - they need to reassure themselves that these kids were different in some way and that this could never happen to their own children.  But I hate it.
It comes back to this for me though: we should never stop being outraged and devastated when children are killed.  Ever.  I don’t care if it’s in East Oakland or Congo, just because something is frequent does not make it normal or acceptable.  This child was shot while she was sleeping.  I don’t know what to do about it (no idea; I wish I did) but I do know that we can’t accept it.
I was talking to “Chantal,” my former student who has now graduated from high school.  She’s doing better - gotten a job, had a little bit of help from a generous friend of mine, and is feeling encouraged.  But this really got her down.  She said she knew the city was bad and she wants to travel cause she’s sick of looking at this “tore-up ghetto.”  But even this girl, who has grown up in this environment and known plenty of kids and adults who have been the victims and perpetrators of violent crimes… even with all that, she just kept repeating, “I never thought a little kid wouldn’t be safe in her own bed.”
One year ago: Elmo and Gang Signs

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