Children in a Violent Society

Children in a Violent Society

Children in a Violent Society

Children in a Violent Society

Synopsis

details the incidence aria scope of the violence epidemic and examines the developmental impact of violence on children. Contributors describe several exemplary prevention and intervention programs currently in place around the country and propose a range of educational and policy initiatives.

Excerpt

This very finely woven and crafted book alters the discussion of the many dimensions of violence toward children, its long-term impact, and some ways that police, social agencies, psychologists, and community helping institutions can ameliorate it. The book is unusual in that it will be useful to many different audiences.

First, it provides a broad description of the problem of children and violence for academic professional readers; it had a personal impact on me. Not many years ago, I had dinner with an African American police chief friend of mine and his wife. The police chief was late (it is a vocational consequence), and his wife and I chatted until he arrived. With tears in her eyes, she told me the story of how her son had sat (in a good city school) through a math class while another student (as a joke) poked him in the back with a loaded MAK 15 automatic weapon (which requires only the talent of a spray paint operator to kill). She spoke of her fear that her son would not reach adulthood. Support for her fear is evident in this book. African American males aged 1-19 are far more likely to die of gunshot wounds than any other group.

The reality of violence in the lives of inner-city children is an important fact the reader will confront in these pages. In winter 1993, I found myself on a ride-along with the police -- with a vest, thank you -- near the Barry Farms (one of the most violent housing projects in Washington, DC). I witnessed two violent incidents that evening. In the first, from the car I was in, I observed as Howard, a young drug dealer, was shot in the leg as a warning by another drug crew member, whose turf had been invaded by Howard's crew. He dragged himself up to his apartment and lying in trauma pants (dress du jour in this part of the city), was watched by his brothers and sisters, ages 4-16, as the medics attempted to save his life. It was the memory of the unforgettable silence of these children that returned to me as I read through the chapters of the first section in Joy Osofsky's book. It is a painful memory, but it provides a useful caution in attempting to empathize with how children interpret these events -- the heart of the effort of this book.

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