Black nurses throughout Miami-Dade County have declared a public health crisis here. And they say the demographic most at risk from gun violence are young African-American teenagers.
“The nurses are fed up,” said Linda Brown, president of the Miami Chapter of the Black Nurses Association. “It’s an emotional toll on the people who are exposed to the death.”
It’s a sentiment shared by many in the community.
The association released a video to promote their cause earlier in February. And a week later, King Carter, a 6-year-old boy, was killed in a style of shooting that has become all too common.
The black nurses will meet Saturday for a Unity Prayer Breakfast in which politicians, health providers and counselors will meet to discuss victims of gun violence, still the leading cause of death for young black men between the ages of 10 and 29.
The nurses say that not only are young adults exposed to violence, but those involved — both the shooters and victims — aren’t getting psychological help.
“You have children walking home from school and right before their eyes, they see someone getting gunned down,” said Alecia Bethel, a nurse and association member. “The soldiers in Iraq, they get assistance for that, for post-traumatic stress syndrome. They get counseling.”
After teaching psychology at Florida International University for three decades, Dr. Marvin Dunn started working with state prisons on more than 40 capital murder cases. Dunn, who has done work in childhood development in America’s inner cities, said almost all of the men were exposed to violence at a young age.
“People become immune to it,” Dunn said. And they’re keeping their mouths shut about it.
“No snitching” — or refusing to cooperate with police — has become the norm in the lower-income areas prone to violence, Dunn said. “The police cannot stop this epidemic. People have to start talking.”
After the unity breakfast, the black nurses will invest money and resources back into the community, including an effort to increase rewards for helping investigators solve crimes.
“We’re also starting a victim trust fund,” Brown said, to offer families some support. “But what we want to do is see what everyone is doing and look at who has been successful. This is a problem that we will have to solve.”