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Parents of 6 slain children speak out: 'Absence of God,' peer pressure, lack of strictness to blame

Lawrence Jones joins a group of parents who lost their children to homicide to discuss the root causes of violence among America's youth on "Cross Country."

Lawrence Jones spoke with a group of parents who lost their children to homicide on "Lawrence Jones Cross Country." 

These parents shared how they found purpose amid their enormous loss and weighed in on the epidemic of violence among America's children.

Anti-violence activist Yvonne Pointer recounted the loss of her daughter Gloria Pointer, who was walking to school, set to receive an award for perfect attendance, but would never make it. 

She would later be "found beaten to death and raped at the bottom of a stairwell and just left there like a dog to die," Pointer said.

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In California, 16-year-old Loeshe Lacy would be gunned down across the street from her high school after her car was mistaken for that of a gang member. 

"She was coming from her job at McDonald's, her part-time job, and they were — her and a friend of hers — were picked up by a young man in the neighborhood. What they didn't know, this young man had a dispute before he picked them up," said Donald Lacy. 

He continued: "They were followed, four assailants went to the front of the vehicle shooting at him. He ducked, she was sitting behind him and unfortunately, she caught seven bullets and was killed."

Sylvia Bennett-Stone, mother of Krystal Joy Bennett, described how her daughter and her two friends were parked at a gas station when they found themselves in the middle of a gang shootout

She said "there's a lack of a solution that's allowed more young lives to be taken."

On Long Island, New York, two best friends, Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas, were targeted and beaten by MS-13 gang members

"She was killed by the MS-13 the day before her 16th birthday. Nisa was beaten by them, her body was left in the street, but she was a wonderful person," Nisa's father Robert Mickens said.

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Yanely Henriquez recounted the dreams of her daughter, 16-year-old Angellyh Yambo, to help others. Yambo was shot near her school in the Bronx in 2022 after being caught in a crossfire. 

"She wanted to be a doctor, she wanted to save lives," Henriquez said.

When asked by host Lawrence Jones what's contributing to the rise in violence among children, Henriquez said: "There's no structure. A lot of kids these days go on peer pressure, and they are kind of obligated to join gangs because there's nothing else to do after school."

Bennett-Stone alluded that the root cause starts in one's household. 

"We have to teach our children at home to make better decisions," she said.

Mickens added: "I miss my daughter. She was my best friend, you know. She was little me. I'd do anything just to have her right here — just to have a laugh, hug me, play ball, watching dumb movies, falling asleep — you know, those special father and daughter moments? I will never have them back."

Pointer said "the absence of God" is to blame.

"When we were little, it wasn't an option whether you were going to go to Sunday school or not," she said.

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As the juvenile trend of violence among children and teenagers continues to rise, Jones asked, "Why does it seem like the problem is only getting worse?"

"I concur with everything that's been said. God first, family. I came from a great family. I had my father in the home. I had my uncles. In fact, my mother used to hand out butt-whooping coupons in the neighborhood," Lacy said. "So our community in Oakland in those days, we were accountable to and for each other."

Mickens added: "We've got to take things back to basics. We've got to, as some people say, crack the whip. We've got to get strict. There's no reason for all of our children to be murdered in almost a similar way. There's no reason for that."

Bennett-Stone made a plea to lawmakers to "put people over politics right now" to stop the violence among children and teenagers. 

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