Free World - September 14, 2021

TiKiya Allen was riding her bicycle when she was struck in the back with a bulle…

TiKiya Allen was riding her bicycle when she was struck in the back with a bullet and killed. The 18-year-old nursing student, who had just finished her first year at Oakland University in Michigan, was on her way to a friend’s house in Detroit at around 4:30 p.m. on July 21 when gunfire sprayed from the open window of a nearby car. None of the bullets was meant to hit the teen, police believe. That fact has made it even harder for TiKiya’s mother Kai Cooks, 39, to grapple with the loss: “I just want my baby back.” Across the U.S., more children and teens are being caught in the crossfire—a by-product of gun violence that has been exacerbated by the pandemic, according to activists and pediatric emergency-room physicians. Since 2020, children’s hospitals have been dealing with a record surge in shooting patients, with many on track to eclipse their previous totals, Melissa Chan reports. Some experts attribute the rise in violence to pandemic-related school closures and unemployment. Strains in emotional and mental health have led to poor conflict resolution, and with millions of children at home, there is easier access to firearms, according to Dr. Regan Williams, the trauma medical director at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. “There’s no reprieve,” says Dr. David Gourlay, the trauma medical director at Children’s Wisconsin, which last year had 79 patients with firearm injuries—double the number in 2019. Six of them died, marking the Milwaukee hospital’s highest death toll from shootings in a year. Read more at the link in bio. Photograph by @brittanygreeson for TIME


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