DENVER — A house party in Adams County last weekend. An apartment building near the University of Denver early Saturday morning. Another house party in Adams County early Sunday morning.
All were the scenes of shootings in which people under the age of 18 were either killed or wounded by gunfire.
"It's unbelievably frustrating," said Jason McBride, a violence interruption specialist with Struggle of Love, a nonprofit that mentors school-age children in the Denver metro area. "We've had more issues, more shootings, more overall violence than we had at the end of the summer."
McBride said the recent spate of shootings fit an alarming pattern of the past five or six years: A sharp rise in youth violence when kids go back to school in the fall.
"You got a lot of parents are working, you've got a lot of kids who are unsupervised, you have a lot of kids who have beef during the summer and that just carries over...and it lasts through the winter," McBride said. "Everyone has a firearm and every kid feels like they need a firearm to feel safe."
So far this year, there have been 12 murder victims under the age of 18 in Denver, compared to the three-year average of nine for the same time period. In Aurora, there have been three murder victims under the age of 18 this year compared to the three-year average of two.
Jason McBride said, unfortunately, he does not see an end to the epidemic of youth violence until the epidemic's root causes are addressed.
"Lack of fathers in the homes, socio-economic issues, equity issues in the schools," McBride said. "We hope that violence will just go away, and it's not."
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