PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — “Am I next? Is my friend next?”
Philadelphia Central High School student MIkayla Jones had frank words while joining other education advocates in admitting gun violence is always on her mind.
She spoke at an open conversation at the “Summit to Change Young Lives” Thursday in Center City, two days after the shooting outside Roxborough High School in Northwest Philadelphia which has ignited conversations all week about guns.
One 14-year-old boy was killed while four others were injured in the shooting, and police are still searching for the shooters.
“It's always a fear, traveling to and from school. For not only my parents but for me,” said Jones.
“Gun violence is something we all think about every single day.”
She said she’s noticed people her age have become numb to the news of shootings, because of how often they happen.
Jones joined other advocates at the summit's kickoff. Many of them in attendance said they’d like to see those in political office do more to address these issues.
“Those in power, our representatives always ask to hear our voice. But they don't use what we say, or actually hear us. They don't make change, thinking about what we said. It's what they think is best,” said Jones.
“But we're the ones going through it. We're the ones fearing for our lives. We're the ones looking over our shoulders every five seconds on the way home.”
179 juveniles have been shot in Philadelphia in 2022, according to the city’s gun violence incident map on Thursday night. 24 of those young shooting victims have died.
A mom who has lost family due to gun violence also called on fellow parents to take a stand with her and demand elected officials do what’s right for their kids.
“Every time these things happen, it's deeply personal to me,” said Cintia Isles from Upper Darby.
Isles said she is both a mom and a grieving sister, after her brother was killed in Philadelphia.
“Often what we get is the prayers and the thoughts. But that just doesn't cut it,” said Isles.
As for her solution, she says poverty, mental health, and suicide need to be addressed, and she doesn’t believe all of the blame is on parents.
“Parents do not change the fact that people have access. We do not change the fact that we have a system that is failing people who are suffering,” said Isles.
“This is the moment for us to stand together, arms locked, flat-footed and clear-eyed. Putting aside our political differences. Not fighting over cultural wars, but making a demand on our politicians that they cannot say ‘no’ to.”