Yesterday at 2:30pm EST, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the chest close to his high school. Here is a link to one the Toronto Star articles:
He died only one and a half hours later at Sunnybrook hospital.
I don't really know if what the mayor of Toronto has suggested is even a solution. It might even just aggravate such violence even more, and force it to occur elsewhere, where a kid wouldn't even have a chance to be treated at the hospital.
When I lived right downtown, on Gerrard & Yonge, there was a guy who sold weed 2 floors below me. I never met him, but people say he used to enjoy having a lot of parties. He had a lot of expensive stuff in his apartment, like a plasma TV, stereo system, etc. I guess rumors spread to the wrong people that he kept a lot of weed and money at his place too. Then some kids decided to break in - only he was there when they expected him to be out. He tried to resist and was shot and killed instantly, while his girlfriend sat in the bathroom, terrified.
I was at the office late, working, but I remember coming home and seeing the entire street filled with police cars. The police vehicles were still casting this eerie periodic blue and red strobe on on all of the nearby buildings. Then I walked in to the building just as the guy's girlfriend was being escorted out by police, and she was in complete shock. Her eyes were all red from tears. I felt so sad for her.
My next instinct when I got home was to lock my door as soon as I got in, fearing that the shooters would be waiting somewhere in the stairwells for a chance to escape. I usually never lock my door - granted, I usually also don't have anything to steal either.
Then only later that year - perhaps at the worst possible time it could happen - a 15 year old girl was killed in a shooting the day after Christmas.
This happened right around the corner from my house, in perhaps the busiest shopping area in the entire city - on boxing day no less. She was only out shopping with her mother when some guy across the street started unloading trying to kill this young gang member that she just happened to be standing close to. The target actually escaped unharmed, but the little girl was killed instantly. Another bystander was taken to hospital for a gunshot wound.
After that, I knew that I no longer liked living in my neighborhood, so I moved to little italy. You'd think that gun violence like that only happens in the under-priviliged areas of a city - but that's wrong. Although I believe that the most gun violence in Toronto occurs in the suburbs. Where I lived at Yonge & Gerrard, the rent was not cheap and I wouldn't call it an underpriviliged area by any means. Same with in Scarborough. I wouldn't call that a project. This sort of thing doesn't happen only in publicly subsidized housing areas, which is what I would consider stereotypical.
Then there was the college in Montreal that was shot up a la Columbine, although that's a completely different story.
What I find particularly disturbing about many of the shootings in Toronto, is that the victims or aggressors are quite often teenage kids who've gotten themselves involved in gangs or selling pot or whatever. The bottom line is that kids need to be discouraged from getting involved. They need to be shown that getting involved in this kind of thing is dangerous. Kids don't care that whatever is punishable by 6 months in juvenile hall, but when you show them a picture of some 14 year old kid who was killed over turf or selling nickel-bags or something, and then you show them pictures of that kids family, and how empty they become... that's when they realize that getting involved in gangs or dealing has repercussions.
I'm not saying that the victim of the latest shooting was involved in something illegal. I have no idea. I've never met the kid. What's obvious, however, is that the person who shot him wanted him dead for one reason or another.
Kids today, and especially those that are underprivileged (in a _local_ sense - relative to their peers), need to have other things to occupy their time... I would encourage the city of Toronto to concentrate on that. Spend some money - buy a couple of used Playstations or something like that for the local community center, where you know families can't afford one. Buy 20 soccer balls and show up one day at the school to give them away. Maybe buy a few violins and start an after school music program. I'm sure that there are 1,000 better things a kid could be doing with his or her time than trying to make money selling pot, or looking somewhere to buy a gun.
I mean, maybe putting 5 police officers in the hallway at these schools would entice people to keep violence away from the school, but that doesn't mean it's not just going to happen somewhere else. These kids just need to realize that they have better things that they could be doing with their time.
I highly doubt that the family and loved-ones of the boy that died will read this, but if you do, you have my condolences.