The Philadelphia Police Department has released its crime statistics for 2012 and is reporting that there have been 327 homicides, 900 rapes, 3,252 robberies with a gun, 4,308 robberies that didn’t involve a gun, 2,426 assaults with a gun, and 5,691 assaults without a gun.
The department is also reporting that there have been over 1,200 people who were the victims of a crime involving a gun. That number boils down to one person getting shot every 6 hours. They’re also claiming that this number is down 8% from last year.
It’s hard to imagine how that information could put anyone’s mind at ease. “Wow,” Chester Cheesesteak muses. “Only 1,200 people got shot last year. Well, at least 96 more people weren’t shot.”
No matter how much those clever masters of spin at the police department try to put a smiley face on the number of shootings, they can’t gloss over the fact that there are more people who were killed with a gun this year (327) than there were last year (324) and the year isn’t over yet.
Sometimes there are other indicators or components that go with crime. It could be the age, economic status, education, and even race that dictate whether someone is going to commit a crime or become a victim of a crime.
According to Philadelphia’s Office of the District Attorney, African American males between the ages of 18 and 24, who have either dropped out of school or are under-performing, come from impoverished neighborhoods, and are being raised in single parent household are at the greatest risk to either commit a crime or become a victim of crime.
Although all these things could be a precursor to risk-taking behavior such as crime, there are things that can and should be done to assure that our youth don’t succumb to such despair and hopelessness.
Years ago, it was solely the responsibility of the parents to raise their children and most of them were pretty effective at their job. Back then, every neighborhood had pimps and gangsters loitering out on the streets, but they didn’t have a huge impact over the kids mainly because the families, clergy members, and schools sheltered them.
However, as society changed and required parents to work as well as the reality of one parent being absent from the home, children became susceptible to outside influences such as the media and new technology.
Outside resources like a daily influx of positive adult role models, city recreation centers that stayed open until midnight or later, jobs and job training geared towards people 14 – 25 years of age, and parent involvement either vanished altogether or has greatly diminished over the last couple of years.
So, maybe it’s just not the kids who are the problem. Maybe it’s the adults. Children emulate what they see and what they experience in the world around them. Kids are not naturally violent and hunting for trouble isn’t necessarily in their blood; these things get planted into their hearts by adults and society.
So, as 2013 dawns on the horizon, perhaps it’s time that the adults are held accountable for their failure towards the youth. They say that it takes a village to raise a child and the village of Philadelphia is failing miserably at it. The responsibility towards our youth is everyone’s responsibility. If one of us fails, we all fail.