Monday, March 3, 2014

Shaina Harrison On Why Kids Pick Up Guns

I read this article in the September 30, 2013 issue of New Yorker magazine, "Red Hood Postcard: Community Guns" by Ian Frazier, and it's stayed with me for months.

The article quotes Shaina Harrison, a 26-year-old woman whose job is helping prevent gun violence among kids in New York City.

"If I ask a room of kids at a high school in Crown Heights if they could get a gun if they wanted to, every hand goes up. These kids can get a gun more easily than a MetroCard. There are guns nobody owns, guns you can borrow - community guns."

"The reason kids pick up guns is that they are powerless. I try to let them understand how they can have power. We draw maps of their neighborhoods and figure out who their representatives are. The first time I ask who represents them in the government, they always shout, 'Obama!' I try to show them there are dozens and dozens of other people between them and him."

"People sometimes ask them what they want to be when they grow up. Don't ask that! Ask what they want to be right now! I want to help them find that out - how they can have some direction and some power, without it coming from a gun."

I thought this was really a call to action - how can we empower teens (and how can kids empower themselves) so they don't turn to guns.

How can every kid have "some direction and some power, without it coming from a gun?"

A great question, that can lead to some great GSA discussions.

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