Last year, 1,101 children were murdered in this country, according to FBI statistics. More than half of them — 563 — were killed with firearms. Of that number, 20 were the first-graders who died on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
The anniversary of that massacre, the horror of which lives with us still, will be observed this week with appropriate ceremonies, including a service at the National Cathedral in Washington. The Newtown Action Alliance and the Newtown Foundation asked that the cathedral be the setting for Thursday’s vigil, which will serve the added purpose of deflecting some of the glare of publicity from a small town that’s still grieving.
Although President Barack Obama may not be able to attend, because of the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa, congressional leaders and other dignitaries will be on hand, along with the media and members of gun control groups.
The vigil is meant to remember all victims of gun violence, an estimated 30,000 people per year, but it might also be a good time to remember all the children who’ve been murdered (the FBI counts as children all victims under the age of 18) — no matter who, no matter where, no matter how. Last year, 247 youngsters were beaten to death in this country; others were knifed, strangled or poisoned.
Although Newtown has grabbed the nation’s attention — the mass killing of such young children, and so many of them, in such a nice, white suburb — it would also be appropriate to recall the children who are murdered every day, by ones and twos, in our cities.
According to the FBI, almost as many black kids as white kids were murdered last year, and since African Americans make up less than 13 percent of the population, that makes it more than five times as dangerous to be young and black as young and white.
“In the ghettos, the killing goes on and on, and people just kind of shrug it off,” Richard Slotkin, of Wesleyan University, told The Connecticut Mirror.
As for gun control, the people who support it “are not as passionate as people who are against it,” Slotkin said.
“We’ll see if anything changes after the vigil.”