Photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz documents impact of violence - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz documents impact of violence in Chicago

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Violence is the leading cause of death among youth in the United States today. In Chicago alone, more than 700 children in 2012 were struck by gunfire. That's an average of almost two kids a day.

Seven years ago, photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz began a compelling and emotional photo documentary examining the devastating impact of gun violence on the streets of Chicago and Philadelphia.

Ortiz grew up in Humboldt Park, and began seeing friends and other kids in the neighborhood become victims of violence, getting shot, or killed or incarcerated more and more frequently.

He decided he needed to call attention to this epidemic in a way that would reach people on an emotional level, in hope that the effect of violence would resonate.

"I hope that people have compassion to think this could happen to their children as well," Ortiz said. "I think we need to wake up and say take time to talk to some youth, put a little time into the issue - into what's happening."

He hopes these photos will help people empathize with what's happening on the street and inspire people to invest in their community and take action to make Chicago a safer place to live.

That can be anything from just volunteering to spend time with kids and show them their lives have worth, to teaching them that they can make something of themselves and that their contributions to society can be and are important.

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