PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A 15-year-old girl is fighting for her life after being shot in the head on a Philadelphia basketball court Tuesday night. The teen is just the latest victim of gun violence in the city and one of many victims under the age of 18.
As the crime rate among young people continues to rise, the city is trying to tackle how to keep kids safe as the school year quickly approaches.READ MORE: Mets, Phillies Minor Leaguers Protest Pay With Wristbands
Youth violence is undeniably contributing to the rising crime rates throughout Philadelphia. So far this year, 137 shooting victims have been under the age of 18 — 32 teenagers 17 or under have become homicide victims.
The latest shooting happened Tuesday night just before 9 p.m. at the Jerome Brown Playground at 20th and West Ontario Streets. A young girl’s playtime was cut short by stray bullets.
“Last night, a 15-year-old girl who was playing basketball at a rec center was shot twice in the head. Another child who was out enjoying a summer evening, playing a game, hanging out, doing what kids are supposed to do,” Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Joel Dales said.
Police say nearly a dozen people were on the playground when the gunfire broke out, yet no one was still at the scene when they arrived.
“For our homicide investigations, as well as all of our shooting investigations, we’re mostly solving it because of the information oftentimes we get from video surveillance,” Deputy Commissioner Ben Naish said.
Escalating violence in neighborhoods is causing the city to update safety measures as Philadelphia school students head back to the classroom in the coming days.READ MORE: Official First-Edition Printed Copy Of U.S. Constitution Set To Go Up For Auction
Mayor Jim Kenney announced stronger safe corridor programs involving community members.
“It is similar to a neighborhood watch program. Volunteers can opt to patrol routes around schools at the start and end of the school day, or to keep watch from their homes and businesses,” Kenney said.
The city will also be expanding out-of-school time programs in schools and at recreation centers, giving kids productive outlets after school ends.
“This is a layered approach and it really starts at the point of contact in the corridors where families and those are volunteering,” Chief of School Safety Kevin Bethel said.
For now, those who are willing to step up are stepping out, reaching out to neighbors so community crimes don’t spill over into the school year.
“It’s sad because not only is her life gone, her family’s affected and so is a lot of these other young children,” said Jameela Muhammad with the Philadelphia Anti-Drug Anti-Violence Network.MORE NEWS: COVID Outbreak At Robbinsville High School Cancels In-Person Classes For A Week
Police say they’ll be working closely with schools and communities to increase patrols around problem areas. They are continuing to add officers to recreation centers throughout the city.