A thirteen year old boy has been reportedly shot and killed. The person who killed him was only fifteen years old and had to kill him. He killed the boy because of a gang initiation. The young boy was doing nothing but being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The incident shakes Chicago, but not too much because shootings like this happen all the time. Today it is considered “normal” when there are shootings because Chicago has become extremely violent.
Many know that Chicago is no place to be at any time and tend to avoid it for. But what about the people who have to live there? Kids who grow up with an abusive family or having no family whatsoever can influence kids to be violent. As they get older, that is how they steer towards gun violence and gangs. Rodnell Dennis, for example, grew up with a mom, no dad, and was poor his whole life. He was never motivated to do well in school, but what he did want to do was to be just like the gang members on his block.
As a boy, Rodnell idolized the Gangster Disciples. He was willing to do anything to be one of them. He was just 7 years old when he first got arrested for stealing from a store, a crime he committed to show the GDs he had what it took to be in the gang. The older guys encouraged him” (Konkol, 2013).
Kids like Rodnell are becoming violent and start to use gun violence because of the older gang members. Kids just want to fit in and when they can’t find that, they go to violence. Rodnell first held a gun in his hand when he was just eleven years old. He fell in love with how the gun felt in his hands and the noise it made when the gun fired. At age thirteen, Rodnell committed his first murder in 1992 and wasn’t released from prison until 2012. He missed his whole childhood and now regrets it. This proves that as a young child, he ruined himself by using gun violence, but also made those streets of Chicago just a little more dangerous than they usually were because he had a gun and wasn’t afraid to use it. Similarly, some kids also idolized gang members just because they wanted that same respect. “As a boy, Rodnell idolized the Gangster Disciples. He was willing to do anything to be one of them, Rodnell loved being in a gang and loved guns. He did later regret killing someone, but he doesn’t blame anyone for how he turned out as a human. This shows that kids who turn to gun violence and gangs will either regret what they did in their past life as a gang member or just stick with it because that’s all they’ve known since they were a small child. But, these children that turn to gun violence are hurting the streets of Chicago more because those kids can escape the hood and become a baker, doctor, CEO, or business owner.
Not all children and teenagers of Chicago think that the hood is all there is, but often teenagers are scared to even leave their house because they’re afraid of getting shot. In 2012, teenagers and kids from all over Chicago sent letters to the Chicago Tribune newspaper about how they want the gun and gang violence to stop. Allante Gills, a student at Englewood High school, said that “I feel everyone needs to be involved with reducing gun violence in our community because too many kids are dying at an early age due to gun violence; it's getting out of control” (Recktenwald, Thornton, Eissman, & Wattley, 1985). She knows that the gun violence in Chicago has gone on for far too long and wants it stop. Innocent people are killed every year because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and a countless number of those people killed are young children. A child shouldn’t have to be scared to go and play in their front yard because he or she knows that a shooting can happen at any time. When Corey Antonio Hardiman was a student in a Chicago school, he asked his peers where they want to be in five years and this is what they said, “Most replied, "Man, I hope to be living” (Hardiman, 2012). This is extremely important. Why should a teenager even think that? Where times are so bad , that they don’t know if they’ll be alive by the time that person is 22 years old. It’s unfair for countless amounts of people to be fearful for their life everyday. But, gun violence is still a problem in Chicago’s youth because once a troubled kid get his or her hands on a gun, he or she will feel the need to fire the gun or hide it. These kids either choose a way out of the hood or they stay there as a gang member. It truly is sad because there are opportunities for these troubled kids and teenagers to get out of the hood and to have a successful life.
Children are killing each other because of gangs. It’s not fair because the victims have not even had a chance to live life fully. According to Rodnell Dennis ,on the report of How Kids Get Caught in Chicago’s Deadly Gun trap (2013), “Rodnell says kids today are like he was when he thought gang membership was a life goal: They don’t ‘see the bigger world beyond the 'hood" (Konkal, 2013). These kids start to think that there is no way out of the hood, so they become part of the hood as a gang member. They start to look up to gang members. These gang members start to influence these kids to commit small crimes, such as theft, and are teaching them to sell drugs and shoot guns, all for power and respect. Without a doubt, gang members are only making Chicago worse by encouraging and helping create criminals from young ages, and these shootings by young teens and kids are only making Chicago worse.
The youth of Chicago have been responsible for most of the gun violence in Chicago since the 90’s. “Two street gangs with extensive criminal operations recruit members off the streets and play lots of North Lawndale. Many boys join before they are teens and are put to work delivering narcotics and guns” ( Konkol,2013).These kids grow up in violence and end up joining a gang at a certain point, but the older gang members take advantage of the younger kids. As they get older, those kids start to turn violent and that is when it is too late to save them. They get to feel what a gun feels like and then that kid is off firing a gun because he loves the noise it makes when the gun is fired. Similarly, “ ‘Take a nine, pull back the hammer and you never forget that sound. ... It's like having sex for the first time. It feels so good. There's something about that sound. It blows your mind. You want to hear it all the time" (Konkol, 2013). No matter what, that kid or teenager falls in love with the gun and, once that person shoots a person, they don’t realize that the impact they have on people, No person just decides to join a gang, but that person joins because they think that it’s either join the game or die. These kids join the gang because they are influenced by gang members when they’re little and think that there is no life outside of the hood.
The youth of Chicago is going to continue to use gun violence as the years go on, and it is only making the streets of Chicago worse. At a young age,kids either start to think of ways to get out the hood or they just accept where they live and become part of it. Most kids who accept that the hood is their life, look up to gang members and start to commit crimes at a very young age, so by the time that they’re 15 he or she is facing 30 years to life in prison for shooting a six year old. Kids who are involved with gangs also fall in love with the game and their guns. The gun makes them feel powerful. While many try to escape the harsh realities of the hood and gun violence in Chicago, many don’t realize until years later that they’ve made a mistake. It’s sad, but it’s the reality of life in Chicago.