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Child Safety

Children Caught in the Crossfire?


Growing up, I know I was fortunate: I never had to be concerned about being caught in the middle of a gun battle, unless my playmates and I were playing cops and robbers in the backyard. In those days, their “guns” were their fingers, a stick, or a toy. But this is the real deal, folks. The Ridgewood-Glen Rock Patch reported this week that a young girl, 8 years old, in Asbury Park, New Jersey, was watching TV in her home. A gun battle apparently ensued on her street, police chased a suspect who obtained a gun… shots were fired, one shot went through the child’s residence. The child was hospitalized. This should NOT happen, and I believe any sane person will agree that too many times recently, people recklessly brandishing weapons are harming children who are nearby.

Gang culture and criminal drug distribution frequently play a part in this stupidity. Gang violence often catches children unawares. They get in the way and are shot. One look at Cook County, Illinois’, murder stats for the past two years (if you can find them on the Internet!) will show there were more than 2,000 deaths by gun violence. I don’t know how many of these were children–and frankly, I am afraid to look at the numbers because I am told they are quite high. The law enforcement community is aware that drug dealers have been known to use children as human shields hoping to throw off observant neighbors or law enforcement. The national news has now alerted the public that a six-year old child was shot–by the police–during a car chase. The parent was the subject of the chase. The child’s death? Sadly, collateral damage. And THIS should NOT happen. Children should never become collateral damage. Children should never be used as human shields. They are the most vulnerable among us, so what is wrong with this horrible picture?

In my view, we are becoming numb to the most horrific crimes and accidents involving firearms, because their numbers are increasing, so much so that we are losing count. 142 School shootings since Newtown! So much so that we refuse to talk about these crimes–or publish essays about them in our newspapers–we wouldn’t want to detract from business or tourism in our communities. I never had to think about guns when I was in school! School and guns were two mutually exclusive terms. I never had to think about being beaten on the street on the way to my classes.

Kids in Chicago and in other “rough” areas of our big cities are lucky to make it to class unscathed, not to mention what may happen to them while in school. This is simply wrong–and it has to stop. The Chicago Reporter’s Angela Caputo, reported in 2012, that “from 2008 through 2012, nearly half of Chicago’s 2,389 homicide victims — 1,118 — were under the age of 25 ( That number has since increased to 1,336 through April 20, [2012]. Of the young people who have been murdered, nearly 500 are 18 or younger (” Three years down the road, not much has changed, the numbers of childhood deaths by violence are still high.

At some point, America is going to have to roll back the liberal way we have allowed firearms- and weapons-related crimes to seep into our lives and to proliferate while allowing the gun-toting criminals who cause them, to live with all the benefits in our prisons.

Meanwhile the children–our country’s future– have been and are being sacrificed by the most selfishly evil elements in our society.

Know this! Children are our only real hope for the future, they are given to us as a blessing. They are the precious fruits of God’s love for us. Is this the way we treat God’s gift?

Author: Marianne Halterman

Marianne is a member of the SafeKids Coalition of the Central Shenandoah Valley.

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