With respect to violence, homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons 15 to 24 years of age and has been the leading cause of death for African-Americans in this age group for over a decade (Hoyert, Kochanek,&Murphy, 1999).
Witnessing and experiencing violence has become all too common for urban, African-American school children. This issue demands the attention of professionals regarding the impact of these experiences on children.
Urban minority children are at a great risk of victimization of witnessing violence.
Such incidents can keep children contained in their homes . Witnessing an act of violence can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
William Julius Wilson at the University of Chicago established that homicide rates soar in neighborhoods where men have no jobs, children are raised without fathers, and social institutions are in disarray.
The correlation between poverty and violence is a well-established factor in social science literature. Being poor in America means living in a devastated, crime-ridden neighborhood. It often means growing up in a family without a father and going to schools where most students fail.
Many young children of color suffer from "Black self-hatred." This is not genetically induced, but results from years of conditioning in the social environment. Many of these young children are growing up without fathers or significant role models. They seek and learn behavior from television and movies. It only seems just that this teenager will consider carrying a gun when he has identified with Bruce Willis in any of the many "Die Hard" movie plots.
A intervention program against African-American children and violence has to originate from a multi-disciplinary approach. There must be community support financially, spiritually, and physically. This must include parental involvement, religious involvement, and strong support from educators.
Community focus groups and forums should delineate the problem at the source it is arising. Not every issue of violence is the same from one neighborhood to the next. Once this objective has been met, an aggressive program focusing on conflict resolution and self-esteem building must be instituted.
It is well documented that violence has become one of the nations most endemic and epidemic health care crises. It is also documented that African-Americans are at a significantly higher risk than any other racial or ethnic group. Just as the nation united several years ago to form the "war against drugs," it is time for the people to demand a collaborative effort between law and medicine to eradicate this problem before it significantly alters perspective racial and ethnic groups. True diversity exists when all ethnicities support each other for the children.
Hoyert, D. L., Kochanek, K. D., & Murphy, S. L. (1999). Deaths: Final data for 1997. National Vital Statistics Reports, 47, 19. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics .
Isaacs, M., & National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health, A. (1992). Violence: The Impact of Community Violence on African American Children and Families: Collaborative Approaches to Prevention and Intervention. Workshop Summary (New York, New York, June 13-15, 1991) . Retrieved from ERIC database .
Thompson Jr., T., & Massat, C. (2005). Experiences of Violence, Post-Traumatic Stress, Academic Achievement and Behavior Problems of Urban African-American Children. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 22(5/6), 367-393. doi:10.1007/s10560-005-0018-5 .