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Peacing Together: The financial strain youth violence puts on Macon families

A fight with two classmates nearly turned deadly for one Macon teen and cost his family thousands in medical bills

MACON, Ga. — Correcion: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed information to Amy Leigh Womack of the Bibb County District Attorney’s Office.

Because the teen who shot Christopher Blount was a juvenile, Womack said she could not discuss the charges or sentence in the case.

When talking about youth violence, there are many costs: the loss of life, opportunity, education, and even a career. 

But there's another cost not often thought about. 

Amyre Makupson with Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism goes into the cost of medical care and the financial strain it can leave on a family.

BACKGROUND: Peacing Together: Seeking solutions to youth violence in Central Georgia

A fight with two classmates nearly turned deadly for one Macon teen. 

While he spent weeks in the hospital fighting to survive, his mother was fighting to keep the family afloat after nearly drowning in debt. 

"There was a physical altercation between Christopher Blount and two juvenile male subjects that were twin brothers," said Bibb County investigator Deandre Hall.

Hall works with the Violent Crimes Unit.

"Christopher Blount was getting the best of the other juvenile male subject. During the fight, one of the juvenile male subjects pulled out a .38 handgun revolver and shot Mr. Christopher Blount," said Hall.

That shot almost killed him.

It left him hospitalized for weeks and still receiving medical care more than a year later.

Valarie Roberts is Blount's mother and she said once the shock wore off, the shooting left their family with a tough reality check -- thousands of dollars in medical bills.

It caused a devastating ripple effect in the family finances.

According to a study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine on the cost of treating gunshot victims, the average cost for a stay like Blount's -- which included ICU care, multiple surgeries, and rehabilitation -- can reach upwards of $95,000.

That financial strain weighs on Blount.

"It does a lot to me to see my mama stressed about it because being that we're not rich, you know, we can't just [go] here is all the money, have a nice day," said Blount.

It left the family with few options, but they're still thankful they're paying off bills from his hospital stay instead of his funeral.

"Even though I hate that I went through it, you know, it did a lot for me growing up because I now know who to trust and who not to trust and who's going to hurt me and who's not going to hurt me," said Blount.

He has lingering nerve damage from the shooting and then struggles daily with PTSD. He's back in school and sharing his story hoping other young men will listen.


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We can't do this on our own, we need your help too. We'd like to invite you to take a brief survey on your thoughts on youth violence in your community.

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