The constant thrum of violence in Oakland, California’s poorest neighborhoods puts kids at a disadvantage in school, even before they walk in the door.

Nine-year-old Jacqueline Funes was paralyzed from the neck down after being shot in the neck while playing in front of her house in Oakland, California.
Photo by Adam Grossberg, KQED

In this award-winning radio series, Zaidee Stavely examines the profound impact gun violence is having on school-age children living in Oakland’s low-income neighborhoods. Listeners are introduced to nine-year-old Jacqueline Funes, who was paralyzed by a stray bullet and yearns to return to school. We also witness the ripple effect of chronic violence as it inflicts long-lasting psychic wounds upon Jacqueline’s family, friends, teachers and school.

Interviews with teachers and school administrators further reveal how economic disparity has stifled much-needed resources to help the city’s most vulnerable children heal from the trauma caused by their surroundings, and gain access to a quality education.

This radio series first aired on KQED News on May 8, 23 and 29, 2015, respectively; and was featured, with print stories and video, on KQED’s “The California Report,” a statewide news program.

Stavely also produced two stories in Spanish focusing on Funes and the impact of gun violence, which aired on Radio Bilingüe on June 5 and June 26, 2015, respectively.

“Books and Bullets” won the 2015 Northern California Society of Professional Journalists award for explanatory journalism in radio. Judges commented that the series “takes listeners to the front lines of an immediate crisis—that of guns in our communities and our schools—and then drills deeper to explore the context of race, culture and community.”

Story Links

Check out these links where you can listen to the radio stories, as well as read expanded online stories and see photos, videos and more.

Zaidee Stavely is an award-winning radio reporter and feature news editor for Radio Bilingüe, the Latino Public Radio network. She has reported for a number of other outlets, including “KQED News” and “The California Report.” Her honors include receiving a Rubén Salazar Award from CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California for an investigative story on an unusually high number of birth defects in the mostly Latino town of Kettleman City, California.