When children awake to monsters

Children deserve better. Telling them to stay away from their parks and friends is not an answer. It is a sickening admission of defeat.

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Dozens of family members and supporters of 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams gather for a vigil outside the girl’s grandmother’s West Side home, Wednesday evening, April 21, 2021. Jaslyn was fatally shot Sunday, April 18, while in line at a McDonald’s drive-thru with her father, who suffered one gunshot wound to the back and survived.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Our children are being murdered. Gunned down in the streets. Shot in the parks. Murdered sitting on the porches of their homes.

They go to bed listening to the sounds of gunshots outside their windows and awake to a living nightmare where monsters stalk the streets looking for children to kill.

This is not a horror movie. It is everyday life.

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A teenager is shot by assassins while walking her dogs.

A 7-year-old is riddled by bullets fired by two gunmen as she sits in a car at a McDonald’s drive-thru.

A baby is shot in the head while traveling in a car on Lake Shore Drive.

Each time the politicians say this must end. The church leaders urge their communities to rally around the families. Flower memorials are built, and tears are shed.

And then some other child is murdered. Shot dead.

Children are told to remain in their homes. The streets are not safe. But a bullet can come through a window at any time and kill a youngster in her home who has done nothing wrong. It happens.

Such atrocities used to be unacceptable. If a child was killed our entire society would come together, not only to denounce the murderer, but to find him and send him to prison.

Even criminals realized that shooting a child, by accident or as a threat, would cause everyone to turn on them, including their fellow gang members.

Not anymore. Now children are murdered every day. There is often no remorse expressed by the gunmen. Our moral compass has been crushed. Violence is an accepted part of daily life, along with the tears shed for the dearly departed.

Those tears have become a fast-evaporating form of moisture in the world.

It is impossible for people to live this way without something changing within them. It is impossible for children to grow up like this without being damaged forever by the bloodshed.

We can blame narcotics. We can blame the gangs. We can blame the police, schools, parents and the government. And always we blame the guns.

We have done this repeatedly. It doesn’t stop children from dying violent deaths in their own neighborhoods.

What good are politicians, we might ask, if they can’t assure the safety of children in the streets, in the parks, in their own homes?

What do all the words of outrage really mean if children can’t enjoy a summer without gunshots ringing in their ears? The temperature is rising. We should expect more dead bodies. This is what people say.

This must come to an end now, along with all the excuses. There must be a commitment to protecting the lives of every child and punishing those who would take their lives. There must be a willingness to stop making excuses for the evil that roams the streets.

We must finally recognize the nightmare is of our own creation.

Children deserve better. We can all agree. Telling them to stay away from their parks and their gatherings with friends is not an answer. It is a sickening admission of defeat.

This is a war, and our children are its victims. This is a life and death struggle and we have failed to put up much of a fight. We cannot claim to be living in a civilized country when young people have lost their right to grow into adulthood.

Our children are being murdered. They go to sleep each night listening to the sound of gunshots outside their windows. They awake each morning to the realization that monsters are stalking their streets.

It is time the adults stepped up and said, “No more.” We are here to protect you and will do whatever it takes to make the world safe. Hell, to make your street safe. 

Save our children.

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