Interviews and blog comments about the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Josue Lopez-Gil in East Oakland — and its frightening aftermath for those who witnessed his death and others — once again made me step back and compare this reality to my own childhood in the Chicago suburbs.
What kinds of decisions did I make when I was 10, 11 and 12? Let’s see … whether try out for the basketball team, whether to leave my tiny Catholic school and go to the big public one, who to sit next to on the bus or in the cafeteria, whether to get a perm…
Those years were not idyllic, by any means. But the decisions I confronted at that immature stage of life — except for, say, whether to look before crossing the street — were of relatively little physical consequence. If I snuck out of the house with my friends late at night, nothing would happen to us (well, until our parents found out).
Compare that to an 10-year-old kid who’s getting beaten up after school, or who’s being recruited by a street gang. A restless 13-year-old who leaves his small, crowded house in the flatlands of East Oakland after dark. Not only are the pressures greater, but the stakes are just so much higher — for the child and for the family. There’s far less room for error.
You can find a story on the subject here.