Community leaders speak on helping to stop youth violence

Following several tragic shootings, community leaders and police speak on the fight against youth violence.

LEXINGTON/GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – Police and community leaders are speaking out on what can be done to stop youth violence following shootings earlier in the week and over the weekend.

Monday, a seventeen-year-old was accused of shooting and killing a man in an apartment. Saturday, a sixteen year old was accused of shooting a Lexington Police officer who wanted to talk to him about possible involvement in another shooting. Two other teens were also charged in that case.

According to ONELexington Director Devine Carama, it’s all about examining the root causes and working together to help stop the violence.

“It’s not just Lexington, it’s nationally. So this isn’t going to be a Band-Aid that fixes the problem, we really have to see what the root causes are, and we’ve got to attack the root,” said Carama.

Police are also looking for answers to help kids and young adults who turn to gun violence.

“Everybody says it takes a village to raise children, I think that’s very true. If we could come together as a community to reach children that are troubled, we would be able to help that,” said Georgetown Police Captain Josh Nash.

According to Carama, the reasons some kids have turned to gun violence over the past few years is a lack of resources during the pandemic, which were normally provided by schools and community centers, as well as mental health and systemic racism.

“I think a lot of it stems from COVID, especially when you talk about our juveniles and young people. A lot of our most underserved youth, they were gaining so many resources through the school system. So for an entire year, you add the social unrest of 2020, and I think we’re seeing the impact of that nationally,” said Carama.

According to Georgetown Police, gun violence is most commonly seen in teens and young men around ages 16 to 25, and that many violent incidents also include drugs.

“These young juveniles get affiliated with local gangs and drug dealers who have access to illegal firearms. And when those firearms get passed around, they end up in the wrong people’s hands,” said Captain Nash.

Nash also warns the importance of keeping guns locked away and out of reach for people to take: he says that teens sometimes find guns in unlocked cars.

“We have a lot of vehicle break-ins, and I think other towns in Central Kentucky can say the same. If you leave your vehicle unlocked and you don’t take your firearm that you own inside your house, these young juveniles will go around and open your car doors. They will take those possessions out of your vehicles. That’s another way juveniles get access to guns unlawfully,” said Captain Nash.

Carama says that it’s important for kids in our communities to have strong leaders.

“They’re going to mimic what they see. So I think it starts with our own behavior, our own children at home. But then also our influence and our witness in the community when other kids are watching,” said Carama.

Carama also says that it’s important to come alongside those who’ve lost their loved ones due to gun violence.

“We’ve got to be supportive. And that mental health and trauma, you’d be surprised how that can create a cycle of violence within a family, within loved ones. Supporting our victims is a big part of reducing violence within a community,” said Carama.

While the work isn’t done, Carama says he thinks there’s hope for change.

“Let’s remember how we feel now when there aren’t any shootings going on. The work has to go on then. It’s in those moments when the work has to be done. So when we go a month or six weeks and there isn’t a shooting, let’s not take our foot off the gas. If anything, let’s grind harder,” said Carama, “I’m hopeful we’re going to get past this. This community, this country seems to always push through things when they’re tough. And I think this is just the next challenge, for Lexington, for our country. There’s good people that are working every day to try to defeat this and I think we are.”

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