Gun Violence

Our Children Are Crying Out

Last weekend in Chicago, 12 people were killed and at least 60 others were injured by guns. Fourteen of these shooting victims were children and teenagers, the youngest an 11-year-old boy who was shot in the leg. Seventeen-year-old Kenny Ivory was shot and killed on Sunday afternoon while riding his bike a block from his home. Seventeen-year-old Jahnae Patterson died after being shot in the face while standing outside during a nighttime block party. Her mother said Jahnae, the middle child in her family and oldest daughter, wanted to be a lawyer someday. Two more 17-year-olds and a 14-year-old were shot and injured at the same party. Four teenage girls were among the mourners shot after a funeral.

The same weekend, students and families from the Parkland, Florida high school where 14 students and three adults were shot and killed on Valentine’s Day led a march at the National Rifle Association’s Northern Virginia headquarters pleading for common sense gun control. Saturday should have been Parkland victim Joaquin Oliver’s 18th birthday. Last year his family celebrated with a surprise party just days before the outgoing athlete and sports fan started his senior year. This year his parents sang happy birthday in a crowd carrying signs reading “One Child is Worth More Than All the Guns on Earth” and “Children Over Guns!”

Our children are crying out for adults to protect them, not guns – and our children are dying while powerful lobbies and political leaders refuse to act. I wrote just recently about 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson, shot and killed last month on the doorstep of her Washington, D.C. home on her way to the ice cream truck across the courtyard. When will we do something? When will adults across our nation join every single parent who refuses to bury another child and stand up and say no more?

I offer this prayer for all children, especially those who are victims of war and violence everywhere – including their own homes, front porches and neighborhoods, streets and schools, and their own countries and at the border.

O God of all time
Yesterday, today, tomorrow, and eternity
Give us courage in our lifetimes
To make war on war
Which leaves behind waifs and widows
Rubble of spirit, home, and community.

Mothers, grandmothers, and all with a mothering spirit
Let us declare and demand:
No more war
No more violence and abuse
No more killing of our young

O God of yesterday, today, tomorrow, and eternity
Our dwelling place in all generations
Give us courage to sow seeds of life and hope for the future
And to fight with all our moral might for justice for every child
Help us to pluck the thorns of despair from our children’s lives.

Mothers, grandmothers, and all with a mothering spirit
Let us declare and demand:
No more hunger
No more homelessness
No more poverty

O God of yesterday, every child’s history
O God of today, every living child’s birthright
O God of tomorrow, every child’s inheritance
O God of eternity, every child’s hope
Lift our voices against the spiritual and cultural pollution
which leave dreamless and purposeless the fruit of our wombs.

Mothers, grandmothers, and all with a mothering spirit
Let us stand together and build a world fit for children
Calling all to serve, to care, and to act to leave no child behind.

Click here to share your comments and find out what others are saying.

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to

Mrs. Edelman’s Child Watch Column also appears each week on Mom’s Rising.