Children dying in Shelby County is a public health crisis, school board member says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — You’ve heard plenty about the impact of the COVID pandemic on children, but the numbers show kids in Memphis have another concern: violence.

23 children have died violently this year in the city, according to the Memphis Police Department.

Two children in the county have died from COVID-19.

A 17-year-old taking the trash out on the job was gunned down in the 1300 block of Ridgeway Road early Wednesday morning.

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Shelby County Schools Board member Stephanie Love says Memphis is going through a public health crisis when you think about the kids who have died from gun violence and COVID-19. She says we can no longer ignore what’s happening to our children.

“You don’t have words anymore; all you have is tears,” she said.

Contario Sevion is the 23rd child to die violently in Memphis this year.

Love said she is preparing to comfort Sevion’s family.

“We don’t even have time to soak it in that a student has died because while going through that process, we learned that another student has died, whether it be COVID, gun violence, or cancer,” said Love.

Love says the two children in Shelby County who died from COVID so far this year, along with the nearly two dozen children gunned down, represent an ongoing problem this community has been facing for decades.

“It’s always been a public health crisis. Our children have been crying out for help for years. Parents have been crying out for help for years,” she said. “Sometimes it just seems like those cries for help have definitely fallen on deaf ears.”

Throughout the pandemic, doctors have been saying that a lot of this speaks to the racial disparities that can no longer be ignored.

Love says she remembers when the Community Outreach Program was fully active, the crime in those communities went down because police were in the schools.