The painful lessons of a violent summer

With several children as shooting victims, the time may be right for Toronto to consider other approaches

On June 14, the unthinkable happened. Two sisters, ages 5 and 9, were shot at a playground in Scarborough. The nine-year-old was shot in the leg and her five-year-old sister was shot in the abdomen. Both were rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Though they both survived, it is inconceivable that a place that epitomizes childhood innocence had become a crime scene.

On July 22, tragedy struck again. Three people were killed and 13 injured in a drive-by shooting on the Danforth. Among the dead was Julianna Kozis, a 10-year-old from Markham.

Over Labour Day weekend alone, five people were killed and two were injured due to gun violence in the GTA.

One of the shootings occurred on Sept. 2 at an annual memorial for Kamal Hercules, a 21-year-old who was shot dead in 2009. Thirty-year-old Michael Lewis, who was visiting the memorial, was shot dead in front of his two kids and pregnant girlfriend.

Each of these shootings was different. Each affected a wide range of people.

According to the Toronto Police Service Crime Statistics, there have been 302 shootings this year as of Sept. 18. That is 17 more shootings than at the same time last year.

It’s clear that guns are becoming a more pressing issue. So what can be done?

For years, the United States has grappled with gun violence, with many mass shootings taking place in schools and putting children at risk. Does that mean parents will now be compelled to keep their children indoors for fear that not even a playground is safe?

According to the Prevention Institute, some less obvious solutions proposed in the U.S. have been to treat the issue as a preventable public-health concern; to provide mental-health and trauma services; and to investigate the link between anger and gun violence to see if any anger-management sessions may help.

That is not to say that Toronto has to implement those specific changes, but after such a violent summer, it might help to consider other approaches — for the safety of all of Toronto and, especially, for the sake of Toronto’s children.

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Posted: Sep 18 2018 12:46 pm
Filed under: News