Despite a Philadelphia antiviolence march that drew thousands in the spring, street-corner vigils, and concerted efforts by police, prosecutors, and community activists this summer, youth homicides are increasing sharply, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Twenty-two children under 18 were killed between Jan. 1 and Aug. 24 – a 47 percent increase over the same period last year. Nearly every week, a child, usually a teenager, is killed violently. Most victims are African American males.
J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, acknowledged that the momentum created in April has dwindled. Jeffrey Roth, director of research at the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, said that for adults, “a big chunk of homicides has to do with domestic violence,” while “youth homicide tends to grow more out of young people being around criminal activity.” Bilal Qayyum, cofounder of Men United for a Better Philadelphia, called the youth homicide numbers appalling. “When young people are not protected, then society is really vulnerable,” Qayyum said. “When we accept kids being murdered, it shows how humanity has dropped.”