It’s not often stories from Wilmington, DE show up in the Delaware Country Daily Times. Although Wilmington is 15 minutes down I-95, you’d think it was on the other side of the country because newspapers are very territorial and tend to stick to local stories inside their coverage area, and Wilmington, DE is not in the Daily Times coverage area.

Yet, Wilmington and Chester have a very similar problem of youth gun violence. Today’s AP story in the Daily Times, ‘Wilmington Struggles as a gun plague afflicts its youth,’ revels a few points about this youth violence that is often overlooked in other articles on this topic.

The biggest misunderstanding most people have regarding youth gun violence is that it’s all drug or gang related. This belief is so embedded in people that it’s almost stupid to try to tell them otherwise.

But, I’m going to try.

In today’s article, they make it plain in these three statements…

  1. …feuds among teenage gangs in Wilmington don’t revolve around drugs, or territory, or even money. It’s about respect.
  2. Social media accelerates the threats, and the danger. Teenagers whose brains are years from fully maturing are roaming the streets with a gun in one pocket and a smartphone in the other.
  3. In the internet age, bad blood can spring up and spread instantly online with the double tap of a thumb on a smartphone screen or a hastily tapped-out Tweet. Teenagers in Wilmington don’t sport gang colors or uniforms, but identify themselves with emojis and hashtags.

It’s so coincidental this article would appear in the same week I launched a new multi-media effort based out of Wilmington called Wilmington-Matters. One of our missions is to identify and share resources from similar communities from Darby to Dover and Camden to Salem. Too often, the artificial boundaries that mark these neighboring towns and communities work to keep us separated which prevents us from combining valuable resources to combat issues we all share.

Chester gets it every now and then.  Chester called in outside resources to come up with a strategy to fight crime in the city back in February 2016 and Wilmington and Norristown were represented. I haven’t heard anything since. Have you?

Wilmington and Chester should do a better job of joining forces to fight gun violence among kids that all look alike. I can only imagine the experience and resources both cities have gained over the years can only help each other.