Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

Stop the Violence

Posted December 12, 2007

This week a 21-year-old man lost his life to senseless violence.  He was stabbed in the heart with a butcher knife.  His 20-year-old friend also lost his life, not due to death, but because he is charged with murder and is now behind bars without bond.  If convicted he will face life in prison or the death penalty.

The debate has been over whether or not those involved are gang members.  Some people in the community and people close to the case say without a doubt gang members played a role in this situation.  But does it really matter?  The real core issue seems to be why are young people killing each other?  This is the question mothers, fathers and grandparents of the dead are asking themselves as the incidents of youth violence seem to be increasing.

Sure kids want attention.  They want to belong.  They want to be cool.  That's why gangs are so appealing.  However, we think of them as a refuge for children who are unwanted and neglected.  More and more I'm hearing stories from hard-working, caring parents whose children have somehow gone astray.  But even if they are gang members, or wanna-be gang members what makes them value life so little? 

Most of the time the arguments that precede these deaths are over something trivial like someone's girl, someone's turf, or someone's reputation.  Are any of these things worth losing your life over?  Are any of these things worth taking someone's life and sealing your fate as a convicted felon in prison for life, or worse, on death row.

These are questions families here in Wake County and surely across the country are asking themselves every time they see a report on the news of another dead young person.  These are questions that we as community members have to ask ourselves.  Each time I interview the mother, father or grandparent of a dead young person they always ask me one rhetorical question:  "Why?"  I just shake my head.  They know I don't have the answer.  Neither do they.

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