CHICAGO — It was the Fourth of July, and Jasmine Donald was on her way home from a party with her 5-year-old son, Jaden, in tow. They stopped at a park, and at first, she didn’t recognize the difference between the fireworks and gunshots.
Jaden was hit in the stomach in what police said was a dispute between rival gang factions. At the hospital, doctors said he was dying. But he made it — narrowly avoiding becoming a grim statistic in another violent summer in Chicago.
Jaden aka Spiderman
Jaden Donald, who is 5-years-old and son of, Jasmine Donald, is one of the latest victims of Chicago’s gun-violence. His mother and him were returning from a 4th of July party and decided to stop at the park. Ms. Donald heard a loud bang and could not distinguish whether they were gunshots or fireworks.
Jaden received a gunshot wound to his stomach when caught between two rival gangs. Transported to a hospital where doctors advised Ms. Donald that Jaden was dying, but he survived. He almost became a statistic in yet another violent summer Chicago is experiencing. He is the fourth child, younger than 7-years-old, to be shot in July alone, and that is troubling.
I read an article from NBC news in which they interviewed Ms. Donald. She stated, “It’s the worst feeling you can ever have to watch your child go through something and be in so much pain and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s the worst feeling ever.”
It is all too common for mothers in Chicago. Even though the pace of gun-violence had fallen from last year, when there were more than 500 homicides. However, the streets are still dangerous. At least four people killed and 22 wounded in shootings during one weekend last month.
Jaden’s favorite superhero is Spiderman, and he likes strawberries and whip cream on his pancakes. He should be dreaming about being a superhero and eating pancakes, not recovering from a gunshot wound. When I take in the information from this article, and while thoughts are running through my mind as I am writing this blog entry; I cannot help but think Jaden is only 5-years-old! Think about that for a moment. He will be starting kindergarten soon. It is so sad and scary. Sergeant Garry McCarthy mentioned, “These gangbangers are not very good shots, right?” “And they hit the wrong people frequently.”
Sergeant McCarthy went on to say murders are down 26 percent compared to the same period last year, to the lowest since 1965. Shootings are down 24 percent.
Apparently, experts on crime say that Chicago’s homicides tend to follow a formula. “A couple of guys plus some sort of disagreement plus a gun equals a dead body,” According to Harold Pollack, a professor at University of Chicago and co-director of its Crime Lab, which works with governments in an effort to reduce violence.
After quoting statistics on gun-violence and juvenile’s shot, let’s move on to other things. Statistics are just that, statistics! They do not adequately describe the pain and stress violence causes. Try to put yourself in a child’s, who is the victim of some violent episode, situation. Imagine being in pain; lying there in a hospital’s trauma room. Being in a hospital setting is scary enough for an adult. Imagine a child thrust into that setting. What a horrible situation. My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved.
My heart hurts thinking about all this. There is the mindset, “Out of sight, out of mind.” That is when violence only happens to somebody else, or Chicago is a long way off and what happens there does not affect me. That is the biggest mistake some people make. Violence does affect everyone; no matter where it occurs! Whether it is the psychological toll due to media coverage or the eventual cost (monetary) in the form of increased taxes to battle the violence; it does affect us all!
Most importantly, how will it affect Jaden now and later in life? What does he think about going through this horrible situation? Hopefully, mom will get therapy for Jaden and herself. Sometimes the psychological toll is as vast as the physical toll.
What to do about gang violence? What to do about gun-control? What about new gun laws? What about more funds designated for mental health issues?
Funds have to be directed toward programs that create alternatives to youth joining gangs. Initially the cost will be significant, but the payoff would be less crime, violence, etc. Also, programs need to created that would draw business into crime ravaged areas. No one program will work by itself.
Gun-control is a good thing within reason. A very important point to remember: People have agendas, politicians, citizens, etc. Some people will take advantage of the current headlines to further their causes. Politicians are the worst in my opinion. However, there has to be some gun-control. Society is way too violent.
We, as a country, do not need more gun laws! It is just that simple. The only people and I repeat; the only people who follow any law are law-abiding people! Criminals do not follow laws. We have many laws on the books right now!
I feel we as a society need to take a hard look at the current mental health situation in the United States. Money must be designated for research, new treatment facilities, etc. An example is Sandy Hook Elementary. The shooter had psychological and psychiatric challenges. His mom supposedly attempted to get him help, but I find that hard to believe. She received over three hundred thousand dollars in alimony per year, and his dad earned somewhere over seven hundred thousand dollars per year. Combined that is somewhere in the vicinity of one million dollars per year. If funds are available, treatment programs are out there. They had the funds.
Why did she let him have and shoot firearms with his history? She even purchased firearms for him! As the police were searching his residence; they located a check written by his mom to him for another firearm. Sometimes parents choose to look the other way, or should I say, refuse to admit there is a challenge. This was the case in regards to this incident.
I think violence, such as what is occurring Chicago, needs to be addressed from several directions; gang education and resistance; prosecute violators using laws already on the books (zero tolerance) and additional funding for mental health programs (very, very significant).
I keep thinking of Jaden. Where is Spiderman? Chicago is in trouble!