Why I Am Heartbroken — Youth Gun Violence

I’m not sure where this post it is going to end.

I’m not hopeful. I suppose I should think it out a bit better, but there really is no reason. Stream of consciousness is probably more appropriate anyway.

One of my duties at work is to go to meetings – tons of them – and take notes, or add an opinion or two, or be the proverbial devil’s advocate; I’m good at it. Rarely do they affect me at a deep personal level.

This morning the Delaware Workforce Investment Board – of which I am deputy director – had its quarterly youth council meeting.

We discussed the usual topics – youth program funding, changes in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and a pretty cool scholarship program we’re standing up to help youth fill in some gaps.

And then it changed.

As the meeting was drawing to a close, one of the members starting talking about youth violence – particularly gun violence in Wilmington Delaware. Each of the ten or so people on the Youth Council had a story of young people who had been in their charge and had been killed in the streets of Wilmington.

It is so devastating that one of the people – a youth service provider – mentioned she had to get counselors and training for her staff because it was common that clients of theirs get murdered.

Can you imagine?

There you are, providing services to a disadvantage kid — helping the little guy or gal craft a future, overcome hurdles, and get ready to take the next steps – only to have that young person gunned down for almost nothing. It has to be devastating.

One women, who works with incarcerate youth, told us that she had an auditorium full of kids and asked how many of them or a member of their immediate a family, been shot or shot at. She said ¾ of the auditorium raised its hands.

It’s not confined to any single area, neighborhood, or street. It is ubiquitous in Wilmington and leaders are doing lots of somethings to get a handle on it, but it seems to have careened out of control.

And there I sat – having just recorded motions and votes for programs that young people have to be alive to attend.

And I got this sick feeling we’ve become guy, flipping starfish from the beach into the ocean.


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