BALTIMORE – Some parents are afraid to send their children to school as Charm City faces a spate of youth homicides and shootings.
“The school-to-prison pipeline — or rather the school-to-grave pipeline — is really real in Baltimore City,” Jovani Patterson, who has two young children, told Fox News.
Jovani Patterson said violence is a top priority for both parents and students in Baltimore. (Megan Myers/Fox News Digital)
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Baltimore City Public Schools held a ceremony last week to remember the 19 students who were shot dead in the past year. The youngest victim was 8 years old. Last year, gunshots claimed the lives of 12 students.
Some shootings took place on or near the school groundswhile others took place elsewhere in the community.
Patterson partly blames the lack of education for the violence. He is suing the school system and city officials, alleging that schools misused tax dollars, reported ghost students to get more money, falsified student records, and more.
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Baltimore had the lowest pass rate throughout Maryland during the past school year. In a secondary school, 77% of students read at the elementary or kindergarten level.
“The educational attainment of those who shoot and those who get shot tend to be above third grade and below,” Patterson said. “What future are you really setting up for these youngsters, other than fighting to survive?”
The number of homicides and shootings has decreased overall by 2023, That’s according to the Baltimore Police Departmentbut the opposite is true for youth: youth homicides are up 67% and shootings are up 55% from last year.
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Blanca Tapahuasco, who homeschools one of her sons while the other two attend public vocational schools, said she fears for her children’s safety.
Blanca Tapahuasco and her youngest son practice multiplication at their home in Baltimore on April 26, 2023. (Hannah Ray Lambert/Fox News Digital)
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“I don’t feel safe,” she said. “I drop[my son]off and pick him up because he doesn’t want to ride the public school bus.”
Tapahuasco believes schools are “targets for children to be employed” by gangs.
“We know that gangs are active,” she said. “The violence is so horrific that it’s intentional, hateful and just horrific. So you’re going to fight or you’re going to be rounded up by the gangs or you’re going to be swallowed up by the streets.”
Children under the age of 13 cannot be charged with nonviolent crimes under Maryland state law. Relatives of a 12-year-old boy who was shot dead in April told Fox45 that adults recruit children to commit crimes for them.
“We have a very liberal state,” Tapahuasco told Fox News. “The consequences will fall on everyone. They don’t just fall on people who vote a certain way. They fall on all of us.”
Blanca Tapahuasco pulled her youngest son out of public school in 2020, concerned that Charm City’s public school system was failing him. Her two older sons attend vocational high schools in Baltimore. (Hannah Ray Lambert/Fox News Digital)
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As student violence continues to rise, Patterson said education is no longer a top priority for many children in Baltimore schools.
“The most important thing they want to do is be safe,” he said. “It’s not learning. It’s not teaching. They go to school and say, ‘Hey, I just want to be able to come back home.'”
Click here to hear more from Patterson and Tapahuasco.
Hannah Ray Lambert is an associate producer/writer at Fox News Digital Originals.