Tri-State organizations help to fight youth violence

Tri-State organizations help to fight youth violence
Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 8:04 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Trends in youth violence are on the rise, and the Tri-State is not immune.

According to the World Health Organization, youth violence is a global public health problem. It includes a range of acts from bullying and physical fighting, to more severe like sexual and physical assault to even homicide.

The World Health Organization says 200,000 homicides among youth happen each year making it the fourth leading cause of death for that age group.

in the summer of 2023 alone, two tri-state teens had their lives cut short due to violence. Both Gaymee Paw and Demarion Black died from gun violence in Owensboro.

Ron Ryan with the Boys and girls Club in Evansville and Courtney Johnson with Young and Established are working to give kids better alternatives.

“I can name countless kids that have lost someone and that know someone that has passed away because of violence,” Johnson shares.

According to the CDC, every 24 hours about 15 youth are victims of homicide.

“Summertime is a really a scary time for our youth because there’s no school and if there’s nowhere to go a lot of kids have a lot of free time on their hands,” Johnson explains.

A Harvard University study shows the development of violent behavior in children can include exposure to physical punishment, impulsivity, aggressive thoughts and low self-esteem.

High school sophomore, Kingston Chambers has spent the last year with Young and Established and is thankful for how the organization touches his life.

I just think it’s a really great place for the community and giving us a place to go after school and even in the summer where we can just be ourselves, chill out and just hang out with our friends and not worry about the violence outside of this community,” Chambers shares.

Each organization aims to create a place to support vulnerable tri-state youth searching for a place to belong.

“It’s an amazing spot where we can be ourselves where we don’t have to get validation from other people who aren’t doing as good with things,” Chambers explains.

“We have a waiting list of over 100. That’s not a good thing. When people hear that they are excited about it. I’m like it’s not a good thing, it just shows you the need,” Johnson says.

If you see a teen choosing violence, help arrange a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional. Early treatment by a professional can often help.

“We don’t shut the door to anybody,” says Ryan. “We have some kids that have some serious issues, and we work through them as best we can. While they’re here, I can promise that we will make a difference in their life and make them think before they act.”

“The most important thing is this is a safe haven. Our kids know they can come and be in a safe environment and to us, that’s what it’s all about,” Johnson shares.

Tri-State youth deserve to be nurtured and cared for while walking through some of their most impressionable years.

“A lot of times it’s a feeling of belonging, if they (teens) feel that they belong to a group, they’re going to talk to someone before they do something,” Ryan shares.

“It’s a family,” said Johnson. “If you ask the kids, they know we care. We love them and we do our best to just basically be there for them. The more that we give them as far as better options, the better it is for our community and our youth.”

If you know a teen struggling, visit the resource section on our Peace of Mind page to look at options across the Tri-State.