Camden (N.J.) Drill Team Keeps Kids in School, Off Deadly Streets

ANGELA PASCOPELLA's picture
Monday, April 1, 2013

Camden, New Jersey, is not an easy place for a kid to grow up in.Just ask 15-year-old Destinee Williams."Camden has this reputation of being dangerous because you can walk outside at 3 in the afternoon and hear gunshots," Destinee said. "Gangs and drugs are a huge deal. Kids get into gangs to feel safe so they won't get killed."

Unfortunately, Destinee has had to deal with too many killings in her young life. "My father was murdered in Camden last year, and my cousin was murdered (last month)," she said. "In the last month, I know of at least three people getting killed. In Camden, I expect it to happen. I'm not surprised anymore."

For many people, the violence in Camden can make it feel more like a war zone than an American city, but the battle doesn't end there. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 42% of Camden's population is living below the poverty line, making it one of the poorest cities in the United States. The New Jersey Department of Education reports that nearly 90% of Camden's schools are in the bottom 5% performance-wise in the state.

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