The unchecked violence in west Philadelphia reached an unprecedented fever pitch on Monday morning when a bullet from a shootout across the street landed in a Head Start classroom with children inside.

Thankfully, no one was injured, but where's the next stray bullet going to land?

Nobody should have to feel unsafe in their own neighborhood, but it's becoming abundantly clear west Philadelphia's problems are approaching an inner-city level.

The bullet was allegedly fired by a man accused in six felonies over the last decade, including armed robbery, escape, sale of a controlled substance, possession of crack cocaine along with two separate charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.

And so goes the story, over and over as these thugs terrorize the city.

The shooting at the Head Start center was the second in as many weeks in west Philadelphia and the 12th reported in the city since the summer.

Through a tip, the Democrat learned of an Oct. 5 late-night near-riot in west Philadelphia where shots were fired and a police car smashed, an incident the mayor initially denied until confronted.

Denial is a community's worst enemy because it only perpetuates the problem and leads to demise. For years, citizens have been complaining and City Hall has ignored them or, worse, been inept.

Like everywhere else, those who can afford to move out of the troubled neighborhoods - or city - do so and evil flourishes, compounded by a class of people unwilling to work and resigned to a life of criminal behavior and government entitlements.

The solution is to educate all people and provide jobs, but it's not that easy - or is it?

Neighborhoods in west Jackson are being reclaimed by residents, but it's a combination of will, better policing, education and the power of Jesus and the Cross, to be frank.

The Neighborhood Christian Center in the heart of one of the worst areas, for example, teaches children from mostly single-parent homes the Bible, tutors them in school, works to help their mothers stabilize financially and to eventually be able to provide for themselves.

One of the bright spots in Philadelphia is our Boys & Girls Club that's teaching a new generation of kids that there's a better way, that staying in school matters, that abstinence is essential and, perhaps most importantly through mentoring, that there is hope outside of the oftentimes living hell of their family lives.

The addicts should be in treatment and the dealers in Parchman, so there's an opportunity here for ministry, rehabilitation and justice with willing people and the right leadership.

So, let the Head Start bullet be fair warning to act now or we're going to lose our city.