Chicago and Guatemala: Too Young to Die

“Too Young to Die” is a long-term exploration of the slow tragedy gun violence exacts on Chicago’s streets. Although over 100 children and young people died in 2012, their deaths are often overshadowed by the focus on mass murders.

When one thinks of the most pressing health problems facing the U.S. today we are likely to consider obesity, diabetes, or cancer. However, for children and youth between 10 and 24 years of age, violence is the second leading cause of death. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 16 young people between ages 10 and 24 are killed in the U.S. every day, mostly by guns. Since 2006 more than 800 young people have been killed in Chicago alone.

A world away in Guatemala, violence is also a way of life. And while few Americans take notice, the culture of gun violence on our city streets is widely mimicked in places like Guatemala.

Carlos Javier Ortiz explores the obvious and covert synergies between vulnerable people who are often victims and perpetrators of violence. His project also examines the causes and consequences of violence in America’s third largest city and the surprising similarities between violence here and in the developing world. In both settings, poverty, lack of education, poor employment prospects, and easy access to guns fuel the violence.