Aiming Gun Crimes Message at Kids

Gun crime hits home: That's the message government officials are trying to get across to high school students. The idea is that the threat of jail-time is not enough of a deterrent -- But maybe the message of how gun crimes affect families will influence the decisions kids make. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson has more.

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About 600 freshmen filed into the auditorium at Westbury High School to hear this message:

"You'll always be your mother's baby, so before you commit a gun crime think about who you leave behind. Gun crimes hit home."

The message was repeated a number of times during the rally, where U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle was the guest of honor. He reminded the kids of a Westbury student death last year, when 16-year-old Julian Ruiz was killed in a drive-by shooting while walking to school.

"You did recently lose somebody here on this campus because of a senseless firearm crime. We're talking about choices you make every day. But today we're going to be talking to you about choices you make that affect not you so much, but your family."

The kids were hit with facts like 12,000 children between the ages of 10 and 16 were prosecuted last year in Harris County alone. As could be expected with high school students, most of them didn't pay much attention. Until Victor Gonzalez with the Mayor's Anti-Gang Office took the stage.

"There's a message here that they're trying to give you and it's an important message. Sometimes we don't take it serious. The decisions that we make we think sometimes that you know I'm not going to get caught -- that ain't me, that's ain't gonna happen to me, that ain't in my hood, it ain't gonna go down like that. Because we decided to get cliqued in, we got blessed in, we did what we had to do for the sake of the gang."

Gonzalez spoke for a full ten minutes while the students listened in total silence and rapt attention. The rally ended a few minutes later and the 600 freshmen filed out of the auditorium and back to class. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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