(St. Louis) The homicide rate among St. Louis, Missouri children is ten times higher than the national rate, according to an analysis of US Federal Police (FBI) data.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Friday that the child homicide rate in St. Louis is much higher than that of other cities of similar size; it is four times that of Indianapolis and Kansas City, Missouri, triple that of Milwaukee, and double that of Baltimore.
Only this year, twelve children aged 17 and under were killed in St. Louis.
The analysis reveals that 584 miners have been killed in the city since 1990 and that 418 of them were in the predominantly African-American neighborhoods of northern St. Louis.
Emma Harrington knows the pain of losing a child too well. Two children she was responsible for were shot dead.
The house of Mme Harrington was full of children in 1991, when two of her daughters and six children lived with her. One of the grandchildren was Aaron, age 7, a grade 2 student who did well in school.
In October 1991, Aaron was playing with four other children in the living room when a shot was fired at the house. Aaron was touched right to the heart.
"I got shot! I got shot! Shouted the little boy. He quickly collapsed. He was already dead when he was rushed to the hospital.
Three people were quickly arrested. A 17-year-old man pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. A 15-year-old suspected by police of firing the fatal blow was acquitted at trial. Prosecutors filed the case of the third suspect, aged 16.
Witnesses told the detectives that the shots had been fired as part of a gang war.
Mme Harrington thought about moving out after Aaron's death, but she never really had the chance.
"Where would I go? When you're poor, you're not going anywhere, "she said.
A few years after Aaron's death, Mme Harrington was responsible for ten children – nine grandchildren and Derrion Williams, the child of a friend of his daughter born while his mother was in prison. Mme Harrington did not want the child to end up in a foster home; she collected it five hours after birth and took it under her wing.
In September 2008, at the age of 16, Derrion was in a car with two other teenagers when another car stopped next to them at a gas station. Someone took out a gun and shot him. He was one of 16 children and teenagers killed in St. Louis that year.
The death of children "destroyed us", says Mme Harrington. "Something like that destroys a family down the line. "