Gun Violence in Miss. Hits Black Youth HardBy Lawayne Childrey | Published 15 Apr 2013 05:04am |
Nearly 5,000 people have been killed by guns in Mississippi over the past decade, making it one of the worst states for gun violence in the nation and African-American youth in the state, are at especially high risk.
Over the past 40 years, Willie Robinson says he has watched the quality of life significantly decline in his West Jackson neighborhood.
"People don't raise their kids anymore," says Robinson. "They let the street raise them and once the street raises them, it's over with."
A Children's Defense Fund study shows that since 1969 homicides involving firearms have been the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 19. Robinson says he finds those statistics to be sobering but not surprising.
"Guns are in the neighborhood everyday, because they get them out of houses when they break in them, they get them out of folks' cars when they break in them. We have murder everyday, half of our brothers are locked up anyway from the same thing they are arguing about -gun control - you can't stop guns," continues Robinson.
Kenya Watson of Jones County, knows first hand how devastating gun violence can be on a family. It's been 8 months since her teenage son became became a victim of a gun incident.
"It [gun shot] left him blind in his right eye, and he had the removal of the scars and now he has memory problems and word processing problems and on January the 16th, he went and got his skull plates back in, and I couldn't ask God why my child had to go through this," says Watson.
As officials continue to debate gun control laws across the country, Nsombi Lambright, with One Voice Mississippi, a group that advocates on behalf of disadvantaged communities, believes part of the solution to gun violence should be focused around quality programs for Mississippi children.
"Our young people are so artistic, they love to sing, they love to write, they love to dance," says Lambright. "If they have enough sports activities and recreational activities they'll stay off the streets, that's been proven time and time again."
A study by the Center for American Progress found that in 2010, Mississippi had the fifth worst gun death rate for children ages 0 to 18. During that year alone, 62 children were killed by guns in the state.
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