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When a drug deal went bad, 7-month-old Clyde Jackson was caught in the middle - literally. A gunman used him as a shield against a hail of gunfire.

Clyde's death last year was nothing new in America's decaying Motor City. At least six children were killed in Detroit last week, three in the firebombing of a reputed crack house.At least 13 children have been slain since October 1990; five or more of those deaths were drug-related.

"Children are treated like their lives don't matter, like no one cares," said Clementine Barfield, founder of Save Our Sons and Daughters, a support group for those who have lost a child to violence. "How many more children will have to die before we realize we have to take action?"

A survey in Detroit's high schools found every student knew of someone who had been slain - a neighbor, a family member or a friend of a friend, Barfield said. In elementary schools the figure was about 80 percent, she said.

"They witness violence, and they live with violence," she said. "They grow up living in fear."

The latest victim was 3-year-old Donald Goines, who was among three people killed early Saturday when gunmen riddled a car with bullets.

Early Wednesday, Molotov cocktails were thrown into a reputed crack house where Charles Simpson, 2, and his sisters Erica, 3, and Laeisha, 4, had been left by their mother. The children died in the fire, along with a woman who tried to rescue them.

Police said the bombing may have been revenge for a ripoff in which buyers were sold fake drugs. No arrests have been made.

Some children become victims before they're born.

At Hutzel Hospital in Detroit, a 1990 study of 1,000 newborns found 44 percent had traces of illegal drugs in their systems, said Dr. Enrique Ostrea, the hospital's chief of pediatrics. The hospital is a referral center for pregnant women who did not get proper prenatal care.

In fiscal 1991, Wayne County's Social Services Department investigated 308 cases of congenital drug addiction, up from 128 in fiscal 1987, said spokeswoman Margaret Anzinger.

"We have lost the ability to be shocked by it because it has become so common," Anzinger said. "You sit here every day and you say, `Geez, things are only going to get worse and worse.' "

There seems to be no easy solution.

Proposals include stricter gun-control laws and better education of children and adults on how to cope with problems created by poverty, drugs and broken families.

The National Center for Community Policing at Michigan State University advocates a return to the neighborhood beat cop and prosecution of low-level drug dealers.

"No matter how large the city is, it actually breaks down into a large number of small neighborhoods," said Bon-nie Bucqueroux, the center's associate director. "The problem with traditional law enforcement is they're always going for the kingpin while the smaller dealer causes chaos in the community."

Robert Berg, Mayor Coleman Young's spokesman, refused to say what the city is doing.

"If there was a magic wand, we'd have waved it a long time ago," he said. "Everybody is frustrated, but you're not going to solve this by scape-goating."