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Our young people are reeling from the trauma of gun violence

As a school principal, I and my assistants and staff work with students who are teens and preteens. They are vulnerable, at the mercy of the community they live in.

Young people were among a huge crowd of anti-violence protesters who shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway in June 2018.
Young people were among a huge crowd of anti-violence protesters who shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway in June 2018.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The poet John Greenleaf Whitter said, “For of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’ ”

What could have become of the lives of the youth that were shot dead this summer? Unfortunately, we will never know. What we do know is that in just a few short weeks, schools across America will be in session.

How is the increase in violence impacting our youth? When school resumes, what shape will they be in psychologically?

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Chicago police reported that there was a nearly 139% increase in murders in July 2020 compared to the same time last year. How do teachers and school administrators work with students — and if schools start remotely, how do they provide services by way of teletherapy — who are experiencing traumatic events while dealing with COVID-19, particularly students of color whose families have been hard hit?

Unfortunately, we often don’t discuss the pain these youth are experiencing and the impact that pain has on different institutions.

As a military soldier, I saw troops that suffered from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The difference is that they were adults. As a school principal, I and my staff work with students who are teens and preteens. They are vulnerable, at the mercy of the community they live in. Mental instability is increasing in youth. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among people aged 15-34, and the onset of all major mental illnesses can occur as early as age 7 to 11.

Evidence of this mental anguish can be seen in the increase in shootings in neighborhoods, fights in schools, and poor student and teacher relationships. When you put students together who have been traumatized, the environment becomes complex and uncertain.

Educators are on the front lines, doing their best to provide help to the wounded. The challenges are stark and include working to find ways to deal with Black or Hispanic cultural norms that may not embrace help or have a lack of trust in institutions.

Please keep students, parents, and teachers in your deepest thoughts and help them work together.

Jerald McNair, South Holland

Take a seat, Cupp and Charen

In the August 7 edition of the Sun Times, under the banner “Joe must not make veepstakes mistake,” you published the opinions of two Republican/conservative pundits, S.E. Cupp and Mona Charen.

Ms. Cupp lets us know that if Joe Biden doesn’t choose the candidate she prefers for vice president, she may have to write-in someone else for president, as she did in 2016. A move that was in 2016, and shall be in 2020, a vote for Donald Trump.

To Ms. Cupp I say, grow up.

Ms. Charen lets us know that in pledging to choose a woman running mate, Joe Biden is “not looking for the best person, but the best woman.” Regarding the African-American women on Joe’s list, she says, “few Black women have the experience and stature to step into the presidency.” Aside from that statement being offensive, it is, in my opinion, untrue.

Again, Ms. Cupp and Ms. Charen are Republicans. The members of that party had no problem nominating and then voting for Trump in 2016 — a man who is morally, ethically and psychologically unfit to be president.

So I say to Ms. Cupp and Ms. Charen, if I need your advice, I’ll ask for it. In the meantime, take a seat and be quiet.

Susan Lovell, DeKalb

Time for Madigan to go

Illinois has been one of the most corrupt states. It is wallowing in debt. Michael Madigan has been in charge as House Speaker for the past 35 years as this corruption has swirled and swirled. Yet he has never been held accountable, apparently because he knows how to avoid being linked to his crimes.

It is time we say “enough” of this cronyism and demand he resign. Gov. Pritzker has not demanded that Madigan step down because he relies on him to get things done.

Illinois is sick of being fleeced. Madigan must go.

Lee Knohl, Evanston