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And then I have my own children. So you sit here and you’re concerned about their safety. As a parent, nobody wants to get that call that your child is not coming back home or your child has been shot. Just that feeling of uneasiness. Even though my oldest son is 23, I still call him and text him all the time to make sure that he’s OK. Even though he’s a grown man.
We have a problem in our community with communicating. My solution to gun violence would be that I would want to create monthly town hall meetings with city officials and local civilians, in which we’re able to discuss the various solutions to try to stop gun violence, and also have each month a local celebrity influencer to help bring the crowds out to support this initiative.
Chez Smith, Chicago
Smith’s stepson survived a gunshot wound in 2008, when he was 15. She is also the mother of a 9-year-old son, 16-year-old daughter and 29-year-old stepdaughter. Smith is the founder of the Gyrls in the H.O.O.D Foundation, which provides reproductive and sexual health education to girls.
I have a stepson who was shot a few years ago in the head. Although he survived, his life will never be the same. It’s a life-changing experience. I just feel like there should be programs in place for the relatives who have to help, whether it’s physically helping them recover; mentally, it should be some therapy programs for the siblings of the victim. My stepdaughter, his sister, did a lot to make sure that he recovered. It’s unfair that she had to be in that position.
We kind of get lumped into one category since we are on the South Side — you know, like there’s something that we’re not doing right. But it’s a lot of hard-working families who go to work every day and take care of their kids and try to do the best that they can. And they want relief, too. They want peace and want their kids to play outside and stuff, too.
I also think that money needs to be put into restorative justice programs that are offering conflict resolution techniques. Black boys are more likely to take redirection from somebody who looks like them. We need to get back to the grassroots way of thinking, and we need money to do that.
I feel like girls are overlooked in this crisis, because really, this is a public health crisis. Girls are just as much victims as the boys are, but you just don’t see the same outrage. We need more intervention programs targeted to girls specifically.