America 2016: A country where youth violence has gotten so bad that a student can’t even feel safe inside a girls’ bathroom at high school.
Amy Joyner, the 16-year-old victim of a deadly assault by multiple girls in Wilmington, Delaware, was actually known for breaking up fights. Considered a quiet, calming presence at Howard High School of Technology, she had a reputation for talking other students down when a situation looked like it might be getting out of hand. Other students said they came to her for counsel about their problems.
Then on Thursday, Amy died in a fight. Around 8 a.m., she walked into the bathroom at the public vocational-technical high school in Wilmington, where a situation suddenly became so violent, she had to be carried out on a stretcher and died the same day. “She didn’t believe in fighting, and the craziest thing is she died in a fight,” says fellow student Nik Stryminski.
It’s not yet clear exactly what happened inside the bathroom, but police believe at least two other girls were involved in the attack, reports Delaware Public Radio. (Students told news outlets that Amy had been in an argument over a boy and that her head was injured after hitting a bathroom sink, but that has not been confirmed.) Wilmington police are still questioning students, and Amy’s cause of death has not been released.
Amy’s death was brutal and tragic, but it’s not an anomaly. Wilmington has long had a reputation for violent crime. In 2014, the city was ranked by the FBI the third most violent city among others of similar size, leading Newsweek to dub it “Murder Town.” Gun violence in Delaware’s largest city is so endemic that in 2015, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a 15-page report examining “epidemic levels of urban gun violence” in this city. It marked the first time that the CDC decided to study violence in a city as a “public health concern.”
Yet even in a place known for high levels of violence, religious officials are expressing dismay that a school campus, which should be considered a safe haven, was not immune. In fact, a mayoral debate on public safety had been scheduled for Thursday night at the school. Needless to say, it’s been postponed.