I’ve read this today and was immediately hit by the thought how much I take for granted my safety .
I grew up in a small miners’ town where drinking, poverty and violence were daily occurrences. Mind you, guns did not feature in this scenarios. Weapons of choice included knives, bottles and various wooden implements.
In spite of that I have never been a witness of direct act of violence, excluding maybe a few punches after one drink too many at a local pub. From early age I walked to school alone (there were just two primary schools and one secondary school in the area). I was travelling by bus to nearby towns to go shopping/wandering with friends on my own, often coming back home after dark. I’ve spend most of my summer days wandering the area with a group of friends, doing stuff now would probably be illegal.
I lived in at least 6 different places, in three different countries. Now I live in a big city, but again, I feel safe 99.9% of the time. [The number of non-sexual crimes of violence recorded by the police in 2012-13 was 7,530 our of which there were 91 homicides – for the WHOLE COUNTRY. The number of homicides for last year in my city equalled 2]. Maybe I just choose the right places to live…
I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t have a point of reference for a situation where in XXI century in a western country a four year old kid was a witness to a shooting, where closing schools puts kids at risk because they will have to cross gang boundaries, and where over $15m has to be spend just on providing safe (or merely slightly safer?) routes to school for the local students.
I feel so sorry for all those kids, growing up in the world where they can’t leave the house to play and feel safe. Where they can’t explore the neighbourhood and learn about the world, life and other people themselves, not from a TV screen or video game. Childhood as I remember wasn’t a bed of roses. There were dangers, there were disappointments, there were tears and humiliation. But there was also joy, and freedom, and wide-eyed wonder.
Will future generations ever know that?