Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Poor Neighborhoods Are Hit by Violence

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Poor Neighborhoods Are Hit by Violence

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

The realities that shape the lives of children struggling with violence and poverty go way beyond what is scribbled on police reports and in case files.

That was clear during the recent Candidates for Kids First Coast Forum.

According to the Times-Union, law enforcement officials, such as Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Lt. Lakesha Burton, talked of children playing the next day in the same bloodstained spot where three people had been slain the day before.

Among those who attended the forum, sponsored by the Tallahassee-based Children's Campaign and the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, were State Attorney Angela Corey and one of her challengers, Melissa Nelson.

They and others could potentially have a hand in whether children who are immersed in those environments - and who may wind up in the criminal justice system as a result - will receive empathy as well as judgment.

Yet while it's good that criminal justice officials attended the forum, it's bad that crime and dysfunction have become such a specter in children's lives that these officials have to be part of the same conversation when it comes to rearing children to be responsible citizens.

In fact, it speaks to how badly things have gone and how much it is going to take to reverse that trend.

Of course, one of the reasons so many children are growing up around violence is because they are also growing up in communities plagued by poverty and instability.

According to The Hamilton Project, an initiative of the Brookings Institution, which examines the struggles of poor Americans and crafts policy recommendations to ease those struggles, people living in households in 2008 earning $15,000 or less a year were three times more likely to be victims of violent crime, such as assault and rape, than people living in households making $75,000 a year or more. …

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