Youth and guns: A chilling look into a Pittsburgh child's world

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As if Pittsburgh needed a reminder of the pervasiveness of gun violence, an informal survey of young people shines a stark light on how it affects urban community life.

The Metro-Urban Institute of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and several associate organizations issued questionnaires to 455 students ages 9 to 18 to gauge the impact of gun violence. Those surveyed were primarily from the North Side, the Hill District and neighborhoods in the East End. They were contacted through after-school programs, charter schools and community groups.

The students were asked if they had family or friends who were wounded or killed by gun violence. Nearly 80 percent reported that they had a friend or relative who had been wounded or killed by gun violence.

Those professing the most knowledge about such harm were between the ages of 15 and 19. Eighty-six percent of them knew victims of gun violence, whether friends or family. For children 12 to 14, nearly 73 percent said they knew gun victims.

This is astonishing.

Although the survey was unscientific, it still provided a window into the tragedy-marred lives of hundreds of Pittsburgh children. To enhance the community's understanding, the institute and its allies want to meet with school and city officials to share their findings.

We would also recommend a meeting with Allegheny County's legislative delegation, since it is in Harrisburg where sensible gun laws can be passed. It's a scandal that so many young people are exposed to the trauma of gun violence. The bigger outrage is that society does nothing about it.


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