". . . it wasn’t loaded." / by richard ross


DCFS put me with my granny . . . She’s a saint.

Grandma visits every Sunday. I’ve been here for four months. I consider this an opportunity for learning. My mom passed away when I was 12 from cancer. DCFS put me with my granny. My dad is not around. She takes care of my two brothers, my two sisters, and her own mentally disabled daughter. She’s a saint. She’s my legal guardian. I’ve never been to a foster home. I’m not a gang member. I knew I screwed up. I feel bad for myself but also for my grandmother. Everybody has guns, its no big deal. A friend gave me a gun . . . it wasn’t loaded. The school is in the hood. Most of the kids grew up around that shit, so it wasn’t no big deal to them. It was just “you got caught with a gun, oh well.” But to everybody else, there was some other shooting going on in Colorado, so I was supposed to be real bad.

-K.R., age 16


**Interviews with youth are recorded to the best of our ability. All personal histories and anecdotes are self-reported by the children. To protect confidentiality of the youth, identities have been obscured, initials have been changed, and identifying details have been removed. Interviews have not been edited for content.