JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As sad as it is to say, 17-year-old Fredrick McRay is more likely to die by homicide rather than by any other cause of death, according to a national study.
Car accidents are the No. 1 killer of teens in the U.S., except for black male teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the leading cause of death among young black men is homicide.
Researchers looked at the homicide rate for every 100,000 people. Among young black men, there are 39.2 homicides. For young hispanic men, there are 17.1 homicides, and for young white males, the homicide rate is just 2.6.
The study found that black males ages 12 to 19 are at risk on their job, in their schools and on the streets.
"It's nonsense. We should be working with this community rather than killing each other," McRay said.
"Unfortunately, the things that are tied to that are violence and crime, because they're dealing drugs or in some sort of gangs," one local resident said.
Community activists said young black men are often mesmerized by the money and the fame they see on TV, looking for the next quick-riches scheme.
Mental health experts said some black men trying to be so tough and so hard are often hurting deep inside, lacking the core basics they need to succeed.
"The financial literacy aspect and the educational component of understanding you don't have to do the fast money process," said Marie Heath, of Edward Waters College. "There are ways coordinated with the community whereby we can assist with jobs and financial education."
Any teen will tell you guns are easy to get on the streets. The violence penetrates nearly every Jacksonville neighborhood.
If you think your teen is at all at risk, there are a number of resources to set them straight.
There are a dozen outreach resources available in Jacksonville for teens or their families:
- The Bridge
- Jacksonville Journey
- 100 Black Men
- Jacksonville Urban League
- Public Defenders Office
- The Malavi Washington Kids Foundation
- Hope Haven
- Community Connection
- PACE Center for Girls
- Teachers for America
- The Boys and Girls Club
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