Concern over gun violence in Chicago mounts, as the number of children shot in the city over the past year exceeds the number that have died from the coronavirus in the entire U.S.
As news of yet another child shot and killed in Chicago hits the wires, outrage over the number of children hurt or killed by gun violence in the city continues to rise. While in other parts of the country and other large cities, the focus on child well-being is primarily related to COVID-19, especially for those who are still too young to get vaccinated, in Chicago the number of children wounded or dead from being shot surpasses the number lost to COVID-19 - in the entire country. Though the battles fought over how to protect children from COVID-19 has intensified as Chicago children have returned to school, these stats have split our attention.
The 12-year-old boy shot and killed Friday morning on the South Side of Chicago is, unfortunately, too regular an occurrence. Friday night two other boys ages 12 and 13 were shot in Chicago but were taken to the hospital and said to be in good condition. Over Labor Day Weekend eight children were shot, including a 4 year old boy who was killed when stray bullets went through the window of his home.
According to Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, it's rare that children are the intended target of these shootings. Brown said, that "it's always some other offender, gang member, criminal network, beef in which adults are targeted and young people nearby are shot as innocent bystanders."
During a press conference, Brown spoke directly to the criminals putting children at risk of being shot.
"You know the life you lead, you know that you're being targeted, or that you've done something to cause this retribution from some rival gang or some rival person," Brown said. "Why are you continuing to be around young people, our children? You’re harming this community. You’re harming these families."
Based on CDC reports and data from police, even before the shootings this weekend, as of Labor Day Weekend at least 280 children in Chicago had been shot this year, more than the 214 of children who have died in 2021 from COVID-19. There were 35 children shot and killed in Chicago in 2021 which is more than the total number of children who have died in the entire state of Illinois due to COVID-19 in 2021 which is 15. It is also more than the number of those under 18 who have died of the virus since the pandemic began with is 25, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
About 60% of residents in Illinois age 12 or older are fully vaccinated. However, on Chicago's South and West Side the rates of people having gotten at least one shot are only around 40 percent resulting in criticism of these neighborhoods. However, these are also the same neighborhoods that have the highest rates of gun violence and where most of the child victims live.
The reality of these neighborhoods is that gunfire is not infrequent nor is the possibility that adults and children not involved in the altercation could be shot and possibly killed by a stray bullet. In this light, it's not hard to understand that getting a vaccine for something you may never contract and if you do won't necessarily kill you perhaps isn't the number one priority, especially when keeping the neighborhood children safe is such a daunting task.
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