Education Will Help Save Youth From Gun Violence
More than 1,000 people gathered to mourn the death of the young rising star. A person who had already begun to commit their life to change, and was making a difference in their community.
Their death has caught the president’s attention and is being labeled a symbol of escalating violence in Chicago. If you’re thinking it’s 2013, and I’m describing Hadiya Pendleton, you’d be wrong.
In 2009, Francisco “Frankie” Valencia, a DePaul University honor student and political science major who dreamt of being the next Barack Obama, had his life ripped away from him in a senseless act of gun violence in Chicago.
What has changed since then?
The same shock and sentiment used to describe Hadiya Pendleton’s death were the same one’s Frankie’s family and friends heard. And yet the only thing that has changed is the aggressive speed in which the death toll has continued to rise.
By the end of 2012, Chicago had tallied 506 homicides related to gun violence.
What needs to change?
It’s our educational system.
Residents living near homicides were much more likely to be black, earn less money and lack a college degree, according to a 12-year analysis of homicides and census data in Chicago by the New York Times.
That means it’s not enough to demand tough restrictions on guns or harsher punishments on criminals. Our society needs to hold itself accountable and accept that we haven’t just failed Hadiya or Frankie, we’ve failed their killers as well.
We want killers punished to the full extent of the law after committing a crime, instead of investing in preventive measures through education, after school programs and mentoring to curtail the violence on Chicago’s streets before it even begins.
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