The entire nation has been shaken by the brutal killings of 20 children and six adults from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Less discussed has been the pervasive gun violence in some urban communities. Last year in Oakland, nearly 150 kids under the age of 18 were victims of shootings. Six were killed. We discuss the effects of gun violence on a community. How does it impact children and their families, and what can be done to help?

Troy Flint, spokesperson for the Oakland Unified School District and member of the crisis response team that responds to violent incidents on or off-campus that affect students and their families
Paula Pringle, president and founder of Save Our Little Children; she lost both her sons to shootings in Oakland in 2001 and 2003
Cindy Hill-Ford, director of mental health services for Catholic Charities of the East Bay
Sheila Blandon, Youth Advisory Board member for Youth Radio
Allison Briscoe-Smith, director of the Center for the Vulnerable Child at Children's Hospital, Oakland

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    As un PC as it may sound how many of these urban criminals are from broken homes? Drop outs? Why are the tax supported public schools failing these folks who seem to be young adults?

    And what boggles my mind is they don’t seem to care when they kill a baby, child. That’s a whole mindset I will never ever understand.

    • Guest

      “They” don’t seem to care? We don’t seem to care.

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        Yes, ‘they’ meaning the shooters. And I care about where I live as do the majority of folks who live in our area of the Sierras. But we also know that living in a good area begins with each of us. Not allowing the community to go into the gutter before caring.

  • Frank

    The causes of urban crime are not the same as those of Newtown. With Adam Lanza, pharmaceuticals and mental illness played a part, and it is quite possible that the fact that his father was about to testify before the US Senate about the multi-trillion-dollar LIBOR scandal was the original cause of the massacre i.e. operatives drugged (and destroyed) the son to intimidate a witness i.e. the father. Where there is vast money and power, bizarre and violent outcomes should be expected.
    Inner city folks are in the opposite scenario: There is little money or power in their world, and in a society that cares so much about “winning” few care about those who lose.

  • I’m a teacher and many of my students have seen gun violence. What services are there for my kids who need support to heal?

  • Guest

    No, everyone can’t live in Menlo Park. Nor should we. But think of all the people that could move away from safer neighborhoods and stake a claim somewhere people need them. The American Dream should not be to own a house with a white picket fence in the best neighborhood money can buy; the American Dream should be to make a difference. My response to this important program is to re-consider involvement in mentor programs or becoming a high school teacher. We can choose to live where we are needed. But will we?

  • Frank

    The original cause of gun violence is the outsourcing of jobs, which led to unemployment and underemployment, which led to poverty and idleness, which led to violence and over-procreation.

  • Stella

    If 20 children were killed at school in Oakland, this would get the same exposure. The quantity of lives lost and school location that makes this so overwhelming. That doesn’t take away from the deaths that occur on a daily basis from violence, this isn’t a comparison.

    What I wonder about is the environment that creates this violence? Conditions your guest mentioned: Having children at a very young age, lax and irresponsible parenting, and lack of trust.

    We need to raise the standards and quality of life, and not rely on the government to solve all these problems, government is over burdened and it will not get better. It starts at home, and accountability.

    • MattCA12

      Right. We have laws. We have programs. At some point, people have to deal with the consequences of their choices.

  • rebecca

    Most rhetoric in the media is still being controlled by White power so discussions seem to be a bit misguided. I would suggest that kqed have guest hosts to lead discussions such as this one. Dave Iverson is a good host but was sort of out of touch with this topic.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Rebecca you make a wise observation.

      The more things change the more they stay the same, and one need only look at who the talking heads are to see what little if any progress is made be it gun violence, mental healthcare failure.

      Those in power don’t live where the problems are. Out of sight out of mind.

    • MattCA12

      The usual leftist tripe. Along with the professor’s “chronic devaluing of brown people’s lives”, attitudes like this won’t help anything.

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        The ‘chronic devaluing of brown people’s lives’ comment did catch my attention because it seems to me its the same brown skin communities that are devaluing their own peoples lives.

        One cannot blame citizens in another town for the mess in another town.

        • Guest

          The world is connected whether you want to acknowledge it or not. There is a difference between assessing blame in another town and making a difference. The deck is stacked against many people, not everyone is created with equal opportunities, and clinging to attitudes of “I’ve got mine” is to perpetrate racial relations which are unhealthy and unfair.

          • Beth Grant DeRoos

            Oakland has how many tens of thousands of citizens? Including wealthy residents. Our area has perhaps ten thousand. So statistically Oakland has more power to get things done simply because of the number of residents who if they got organized and stayed active for months and months should be able to get things done.

            But deep down one might want to look at lifestyle choices which are at the root cause of most of societies ills. Sadly, progressives are the ones who say we cannot legislate morality. Yet, its our moral community which expects certain behavior that makes this a wonderful place to live. And it starts when a child is born.

    • Guest

      I thought Dave did an extraordinary job on this program. I’m sending KQED money just to underscore that I want more programs like this one which encourage us to think beyond the city limits of our own lives.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Having listening to the entire show I was puzzled about where are the men who are working to end gun violence in the inner city? That’s part of the problem. Few men in leadership. Few men mentoring young males. Few men in intact households.

  • Manisha

    The current issue of Mother Jones highlights the incredibly strong correlation between lead exposure and crime rates. Research suggests that lead exposure causes permanent damage to the communities that suffer it. The physical side effects such as lack of impulse control and lower IQ cause damage with each successive generation exposed to the toxins. Any talk of crime reduction in Oakland needs to address the issue of the literally toxic environment we ask people to raise their children in. Gun violence is a symptom of the disease but not the source.

  • Macy Parker

    I work with a nonprofit serving kids in Oakland and around the Bay Area. Our volunteers serve as “Citizen Teachers” sharing what they know and love with youth. I hope those who called in looking for ways to work with Oakland kids will sign up to volunteer at

  • Jackie Shonerd

    Having worked many years in Oakland schools I can say that the district is seriously working on solutions at many levels, all based on building relationships and developing the resiliency and life skills of our kids. Prevention efforts include elementary programs like Caring School Community, Roots of Empathy, Second Step, and Be a Mentor. Intervention programs include Restorative Justice and coordinated mental health supports. Afterschool programs provide safety, youth development, enrichment opportunities, and academic support.

    But all our schools are under-resourced, people who want to get involved can check out the volunteer tab at their local school websites – in Oakland go to

    Everyone can do something, including supporting increased funding to schools. Contact your local state and federal government representatives and speak up!

    Jackie Shonerd
    Alameda County Office of Education

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