If you haven’t heard, a pregnant woman this week was reportedly stabbed in the back by a man while walking along a trail in Brookhaven, near Atlanta. She had her 3-year-old son with her — can you imagine the terror this child witnessed?
Unfortunately, the woman was forced to undergo an emergency cesarean section to not only save the baby’s life, but her own. She was only five months into her pregnancy.
Reports out of the ATL say both will be fine, but the road to recovery will be a long one to traverse.
The truly cringeworthy part of this story was that the suspect had tried to strike up a conversation the woman and her son while walking, but as they walked away, the man ran up behind them and stabbed her. Reportedly nothing was said or done to provoke the suspect, who was finally located and arrested Thursday. In other words, the attack was completely unexpected. Apparently mental illness “played a role” in the incident.
Before the stabbing, the park had no history as a site of crime, much less something as significant as this.
This incident has rattled many, including myself, despite living here in Newton. Walking around my own neighborhood, I can’t help but find myself looking over my shoulder every few minutes, senses heightened. It’s not that I don’t feel safe, per se. Maybe I’m just more timid considering recent events. After all, I have two toddlers to look after.
The Brookhaven incident highlights two major problems that not only the city of Atlanta is facing, but our entire state and country faces.
The first problem is the obvious, ever-rising crime rates. According to online crime data tracker NeighborhoodScout, a person’s odds of being the victim of a crime anywhere in the state of Georgia are currently 1 in 294. The odds of becoming the victim of a crime right now in Atlanta is currently 1 in 121 — more than doubled. The same data projected Atlanta as safer than only 3% of all other cities within the U.S. That is not good.
I’ve also read statistics showing crime rates have increased by 60% within the last year alone.
I listen to Atlanta-based radio shows, watch Atlanta-based news stations and read Atlanta-based newspapers. Nearly everyone has something to say about it, whether it be the alleged reason — or reasons — for the increase of violence or how they need to handle the situation. But the bottom line is that I’ve seen no real, legitimate action taken. And I’m not sure when we’ll see action. The issue is expected to be a major political talking point for Atlanta’s mayoral race this year, so does that mean we’ll just keep hearing a bunch of talk til then?
When talking about the root cause of the crime spike, I’ve heard a lot of different theories. Early on it was because of civil unrest due to pandemic restrictions brought on by the federal government. Another was no kids having to go to school in person. Then there was more unrest related to instances of racial injustices and police brutality. I’ve heard now that it’s due to a shortage of police officers and lack of law enforcement presence. In relation to that, I’ve read where a lack of support and respect for law enforcement from not only civilians, but government leaders, could be damaging, too.
All of those reasons are plausible, but here’s one I haven’t read much about — parenting; or these assailants’ home-life. Do they have a support system? A job? How can we help them?
And a question that brings us to our second fleeting problem: what is their mental health status?
Now, I’m not a big fan of people playing the “crazy card” or claiming “the devil made me do it,” but I also understand and realize mental illness is real, and, just like in the Brookhaven incident, it has proven to play a major role in violent crimes nationwide.
I can’t tell you what the solution is to the raging war on crime and mental health. What I can tell you is that it’s time for our leaders — not only here in Georgia, but nationwide — to put their money where their mouth is. It’s time they start taking action to address these issues.
Until then, well, it’s sad to see a “walk in the park” is no longer that.
Taylor Beck is editor and publisher of The News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.