WLRN is looking at the impact of children and teens killed by guns in Miami-Dade County through the voices of some of the people who are most affected.
Tawana Akins is a fourth grade teacher at Holmes Elementary School in Miami-Dade. She’s been teaching for 13 years.
As a teacher and in her own personal life, Akins has attended and planned funerals for school-aged children killed by gunfire in Miami-Dade County.
She recently buried her great-nephew King Carter. He was 6. He loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and he wanted to be a police officer.
King was killed in the crossfire of a gunfight at the apartment complex where he lived.
More than 100 children and teenagers have been killed by guns in Miami-Dade County over the past three years.
An excerpt of the conversation with Akins:
Violent crime of a 6-year old in broad open daylight. How can you shoot up an apartment building in broad open daylight?
The people who are committing these violent crimes are starting at 13-years old. And they know, “Oh, I'm not an adult yet. I’ll get out. I’ll get out.”
Where are they getting these guns from? Parents [are] not searching mattresses. They’re not searching closets.
My students...are used to it.
“Oh Ms. Akins you heard about who got shot?
"They shot at my momma, Ms. Akins."
"They just shot my grandmomma's car up."
They act like this is normal. This is not normal.
My students range from the ages of 9 to 13. That’s a problem when they feel what's going on in the neighborhood is more important than what’s going on in the classroom. I just think we need to more at the bottom, starting in elementary school.
When you look at the statistics of these criminals they are what? Black males. Between the ages of 14 and 19. They have severe problems in school, suspensions. They have low reading levels.
We all need to get on one accord as a community, school, parents. Everyone needs to come together to save our children.
They’re so young. They shouldn’t know hate so much at a young age.
King Carter’s death, it has pushed me more.
My job? What I want to do? Save children’s lives