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y ou t h

v i o l e n c e
&
h omi c i d e
myths & realities in DC
Prepared by: DC Positive Youth Development Task Force -- Promoting a positive youth development agenda in the city
c/o DC Action for Children, 1616 P St NW, Suite 420, Washington, DC 20036,
(202) 234-9404, (202) 234-9108 fax, scambria@dckids.org 070705
t
my h #1
Wrong Place Wrong Time
Reality:
In DC, most youth homicide victims are
the intended target of the violence they
experience.

A 17-year-old male was found by police, during November


1999, lying next to the street dead from gunshot wounds to
the head. The circumstances leading to the boy’s death re-
main unknown. The boy had been known to the juvenile jus-
tice system since 1994, however, his case had been closed for
over a year prior to his death. During that same year, his
family became known to the child welfare system due to ne-
glect by his mother who suffered from addiction to crack co-
caine. The boy admitted using cocaine, PCP, and marijuana
since the age of 12. He also admitted to selling drugs. De-
spite system interventions, the boy continued to engage in
drug activity following the closing of his juvenile case in the
District, and it is suspected that such activity may have led to
his untimely death.*
t
my h #2
No One Saw It Coming
Reality:
Homicides or attempted homicides are
most often the result of “beef” or con-
flicts between young people or groups of
young people that build up over time.

In a Southeast D.C. neighborhood, a 17-year-old male, whose


juvenile justice case had recently closed after four years, en-
gaged in a fight with another teenager one evening during
the month of July. The fight broke up, but the other teenager
returned later with a gun and shot the 17 year old several
times. The victim stumbled into the street where he was
found by police. He was transported to the hospital and pro-
nounced dead shortly thereafter. The teenage murder sus-
pect was apprehended a year later following an armed
burglery attempt.*
t
my h #3
We Never Had a Chance to
Help
Reality:
Most youth homicide victims have a long
history of personal or family trouble and
of people being involved in their lives
who were in a position or supposed to
help.

On a Thursday, in early July, at approximately 5:00 in the


morning, a medic unit was dispatched to a southeast neigh-
borhood, for a shooting. Upon arrival, the body of a 20 year
old African American male was transported by ambulance to
the nearest hospital where he was pronounced dead. A wit-
ness to the shooting indicated to the police that he observed
the decedent and an unknown black male subject in a physi-
cal altercation and soon after, heard a shot and observed a
flash. He also indicated that he ran to a safer location and
then heard a 2nd shot and observed the decedent lying across
a fence. The decedent and his family had been known to the
child welfare system since 1990 when the mother voluntarily
placed the decedent and his 2 siblings in foster care due to
her problems with drug addiction. However, she failed to
maintain contact with the agency or plan for her children,
therefore the children were committed.*

* Real stories taken from the Child Fatality Review Committee annual report for 1999.