Writer KIA GREGORY, a native of North Philadelphia, pleads with visiting members of the NAACP to help stop the killing of our children.
Yet juvenile crime remains on the rise.
"Most often the No. 1 topic in our meetings is violence," says Janne Ayers, 15, president of the local NAACP Youth Council. "There's a lot of frustration."
Last year in Philadelphia 880 young people (ages 7 to 24) were wounded by gunshots. That's 131 more than the year before.
The number of juveniles arrested for drug-related offenses has increased 80 percent in the last seven years.
Violent crimes against juveniles have also increased significantly.
Our children are growing up believing that murder is the natural way of life.
Since Faheem Thomas-Childs was murdered in February, I've talked to a lot of young black kids about their reality in this city.
Many echo stories of drugs, poverty and blight. But unlike when I was growing up, kids today are exposed to a world of glamorized violence through an onslaught on television, film, music and video games. They're growing up seeing memorials right outside their door.
"This corner is bad luck right here," says Andrew James, a recent high school graduate who lives on a narrow block of well-kept houses in Strawberry Mansion.
As he talks to me, he's standing in an underworld of empty lots, trash-strewn streets, abandoned buildings and blood-stained corners, all just a few blocks from his home.
He tells me that four people were killed on this corner in the last couple years. His good friend C Jay was gunned down here last July in a turf war between rival gangs after walking his girlfriend home late one night. He was 17.
In his neighborhood, Andrew is one of the good kids. He once hawked bottled water on the street and now sells a documentary on violence he made at Straw-berry Mansion High to earn extra money for film school.
In his West Philadelphia neighborhood, Trae Pate, 17, has seen people robbed at gunpoint, drugs being sold on the street, people getting shot. Sometimes he dreams that he's been killed by a single wanton bullet.
Recently a young man was shot and killed a few blocks from Trae's house while gambling on the corner.
"The younger generation is using guns more because it's like they have no care for life," says Trae. "It's like, they in the 'hood and they can't get out, so ... "
The stories are different, but the sound is the same.
Travis Wilcox of Overbrook Park remembers days when his mother would gather up the household bills and all the money she had, and together they would ask God to make a way.
Travis' father was gone--addicted to crack. Sometimes his mother would cry under the weight of raising Travis and his brother alone.
PW's Summer Guide 2014