So this weekend, my son is getting ready for his second year of college and University.
That’s not my son.
That’s his friend.
They went shopping yesterday to buy some clothes for my son who lets just say is “sartorially challenged”.
My son likes looking good, but has no idea and because of that (I think) opts out of worrying about it.
He’s resigned to not being trendy, or even being slightly well dressed.
And yet, I know he likes looking good.
He came back with new shorts, new boardies, new shoes.
And then went through his clothes and items were allowed to be packed only if they passed inspection.
The shorts pictured were rejected.
At this school all the kids are part of gangs. They don’t get a choice. The gang they are in is dictated by where they live.
To not be in a gang means never to leave the house. Never to have friends.
Last year 29 current and recent students of this school were shot.
Not at the school – that might have made the news – in the neighbourhood. One on the porch while talking to a friend. The friend’s brother on the pavement also got shot. He was in a wheelchair, paralysed in an earlier shooting.
And look at the people who work at this school – all so young – you listen to their stories and they care so much.
I can’t stop thinking about them.
I feel like I live in a parallel universe from Harper High School. (and they are by no means an isolated case)
The fears I have for my children – will they make friends, will they study, will they get jobs, will they wear the right shorts – all seem small.
I am, we are, so lucky.
And I want to do something to help, but part of me is angry.
Angry that the most wealthy country in the world can’t sort this out!
How can they let this even exist?
How can they spend money on the military “saving other countries” and not spend it on saving their own society?
Why is it that 15 year olds can sit around discussing where they get handguns from and how much they cost?
It shocks me to the core of my white middle class existence half a world away.
I know we have tough schools in Australia.
Schools where “going into Lockdown” is a relatively frequent occurance. Where principals stand outside the gates in a high vis vest ready to protect their students as best they can.
At least they don’t have to face guns.
Lecture over. Class dismissed. Getting off my soap box now.