Growing Up In Violence Part 3: Shannon’s Story

I am a guidance counselor. And I’ve always wanted to tell some of my enlightening stories. Over the years I have taken notes about a lot of my students. And I’ve decided to start sharing some of them here.

I work with a lot of kids who don’t have ideal home lives. The one thing that always amazes me is that they always come to school. Even though there’s no one at home making them. When I was a kid I would have stayed home every chance I got.

Even when there is a field trip they can’t participate in. Even when they don’t have a uniform. Even when they come and don’t do a damn thing. They come.

I’ve worked with a lot of kids over the years. And I’ve learned so much. Getting to really know kids is the best part of my job. Normally the kids who are the most difficult are the ones I grow to love the most. What I’ve really learned is that all kids, everywhere, want exactly the same thing. To be loved.



Shannon is a very pretty, smart, and quick-witted girl. She can be a handful for teachers. But once you get to know her she is awesome. The thing I love most about Shannon is the relationship she has with her mom. At fourteen, it’s not always easy to have such a close relationship between mother and daughter. The way Shannon talks about her mom melts my heart.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I’ll be 24. I see myself working. But I don’t know at what. I’ll probably have kids. Maybe two. I’ll probably be living with my brother and his girlfriend.

My goals are to like, whatever I didn’t have I want my kids to have. I want my kids to have their father’s attention. I want them to have a good education and a good career. I want myself to be a good mother to them to teach them what’s good and what’s not.

Besides having kids? To have my own house besides living with my brother.

Is there anything you want to be when you grow up?

That’s only if life has plans for me. Honestly I don’t see myself finishing high school. Because school is not my thing. I hardly want to come to school nowadays. But I still come.

So you want your kids to have an education but not you?

That’s how it is nowadays. My parents don’t have their full education.

What do you think your parents want for you?

My mom wants the best for me because she knows my sister is looking up to me and she wants the best for her too. My mom wants me to get a good job for when I get older I can be on my own.

Are you scared in the neighborhood?

No. I just think if something happens that it happens. I am afraid when my brother is out (he’s 16) that something might happen to him. The way he dresses. He always wears joggers and the gang bangers always stare at him when he’s with me. I’m guessing because his joggers are sagging and if he sags the gang bangers don’t care if you’re in a gang or not. But if you’re sagging to them it means you’re trying to represent something. I tell him not to sag. He might be my older brother but I’m telling hum not to do it. He’s not in a gang. He listens to me.

Do you feel safe going outside?

No but I still go outside. I walk to and from school. To my grandma’s house. I live in a different neighborhood now. Where I live now is safer than this neighborhood. The gang bangers are 3 blocks away from my house so it’s pretty safe. They don’t come by us.

Are you afraid to go to the neighborhood high school?

My mom doesn’t want me to go there but we have no other choice. I didn’t get into the other high schools I applied to. My brother goes there. Once the gang bangers stopped him and asked him what you is? And they asked him if he wanted to buy? (When I ask if they were selling Avon products she laughs her butt off and says no pills.) He said I don’t do that. So I just worry about my brother being out there.

Just yesterday I was walking home and a car passed and there were two guys in there and they were trying to get at me. They were smiling at me and calling me over. I was confused. But not scared. I still don’t know what they wanted I just walked home. That happens a lot.

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