On Monday, 2 On Your Side published and aired Part One of our series on the emotional impact of violence in Buffalo. In Part Two, we continue to explore this issue through the voices of three young women, who met with us earlier this month for a roundtable discussion.
Iyona Wilson, 18, Math Science Technology School Class of 2016
On living through a cycle of violence: "Until you actually see it and witness it... I used to work at McDonald's. A guy got shot right in front of McDonald's. I was scarred from that. You hear me? On Grider Street. And I don't even live in that neighborhood. But I'm still seeing this, I'm not just hearing it, we're actually witnessing these things."
On losing her youth: "You want to go to certain parties, you want to have fun, you want to do certain things. We can't enjoy our teenage years, you might as well say."
On the impact to children: "I went to a funeral and saw a 10-year-old kid who was crying in the corner. He said, 'I'm just mad.' He didn't even know why he was mad-- he just knew he sees his 14-year-old cousin in a casket."
On potential solutions: "Before a shooting happens on Broadway and Fillmore, before a shooting happens at Moselle, or wherever it's at, we need to be more hands-on. We need to be there before it happens. We need to be getting more advocates that have the same mindset that we have."
Rachel Cofield, 18, Math Science Technology School Class of 2016:
On losing young people to violence: "It's just sad that we have to bury our people our own age-- adults who are 45, burying their kids who are 16 and 17. And innocent kids are getting hit because of another person's retaliation."
On the issue of gangs: "Losing family is never OK, and it's always gang-related issues, which makes no sense to me. What really is a gang? A group of people who have an issue with another group of people because of a street name? Or because of where they live? I don't understand it."
On potential solutions: "It starts in the home. If you're growing up... and you see your brother, your sister, your dad with a gun, then that's all they know. But I just want kids to know: You do not have to choose that path. There are people out there who will help you."
Nakira White, 17, Sweet Home High School Class of 2017 and former MST student:
On the importance of prevention work: "You never know-- it could be your family member. Don't let it get to your family before you take action... All these kids are getting killed. Some people don't even get to live their life. And it's just sad. I want to reach out to them too."
On the impact to children: "My niece and nephew are nine and seven. They'll be 10 and eight this year. My sister tries to, you know, protect them from stuff. But when they come over, and they say, 'my friend from school, his uncle got shot, his brother got shot,' it hurts me. They want to know what's going on-- but I can't give them an answer."
On the need for resources: "We just need an outlet. An outlet. We just need to know, if I need someone to talk to, I can go in this building. I might not know the person, but they'll be there to let me sit. And let me talk."