Hadiya Pendleton shooting: Teen fears desensitization to gun violence

Hadiya Pendleton shooting: Teen fears desensitization to gun violence

On January 30, 2013 Hadiya Pendleton was shot when an individual jumped a fence and opened fire on her and a group of her friends. They were in a Chicago park under a canopy taking shelter from the rain. The shooter had mistaken the teens for a group of rival gang members and the victims were taken to the hospital. Her friends survived but Hadiya was killed in the shooting. There were witnesses and gang members in the area, however no one would talk to police about what happened.

She was 15 years old and attended King College, one of Chicago’s top 10 public schools in a selective program and along with her classmates had performed at the presidential inauguration parade with her drill team and band.

This is another example of how gun violence is happening around the nation and in my own town. Gun violence has increased so much, it seems like it has become an epidemic that the government is trying to fix. I don’t believe that regulations can really solve the high rate of gun deaths that we are experiencing. It is in human nature to fight against one another, and without community, knowledge, and a way to stop the violence the situation will only get much worse. Guns are not the problem, it is the people that use and handle the guns. A minority of bad people make the rest of the majority of gun owners look bad.

Hadiya Pendleton shooting: Teen fears desensitization to gun violence
15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was gunned down just days after performing in President Obama’s inaugural parade / Family photo

Five days ago, on Feb 15, President Obama visited the neighborhood where Hadiya died. He addressed Hyde Park Academy in Chicago saying, “When a child opens fire on another child, there’s a hole in that child’s heart that government can’t fill — only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole.” Just after listening to his speech, Destini Warren, a 14-year-old, left the audience to learn her sister, 18-year-old Janay McFarlane, was gunned down and died.

Guns did serve as a lifeline to the American people during the Revolution, but they were a tool to get food and for protection. It was essential for everyone to keep their guns and without them they wouldn’t have survived for very long. However, things have changed and times have become quite modern and the practical use for a gun has been diminished. It is a weapon meant to kill and for defense, and many seem to forget that. I don’t think that guns are a problem. The real problem is this culture we have today were many feel that guns are a toy. When people think of these machines as toys our communities fall into trouble.

For some reason, when I heard that Hadiya was killed, the news didn’t hit me as hard as when I heard of shootings in the past. The shooting epidemic sweeping our nation makes me fear desensitization to gun violence is becoming the norm for our country.

What really impacted me about this tragedy was Hadiya’s marching band background. I was in marching band for four years and I know it takes a lot of talent to do well in band. All gun deaths are tragic, but as a former band member, I hate to see someone so talented die.

I have said this many times before but I do feel that guns are not the problem. If we could get a sense of community, trust and mutual respect among each other, this could lead to the greatest decrease of violence that we have ever seen. A country of brotherly love, not desensitization, is something that we can all work to achieve, and this should be the sole aim of our government.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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