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City leaders collaborate to end youth violence

Teens kill man after he helps pull their car from a ditch, police say
Posted at 4:40 PM, Mar 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-21 07:46:19-04

BALTIMORE — There have been too many teens killed as a result of youth violence. Monday morning, Baltimore City leaders met to discuss ways they are collaborating to prevent it.

Youth violence and its prevalence is a national trend according to city leaders like Mayor Brandon Scott. Surprisingly, data shows the pandemic has played a major part as to why we’ve see such an increase in youth violence.

“This is about our young people, violence in Baltimore is down for every other group. A 29% reduction in homicides and shootings except for our young people,” Scott said.

RELATED: From Jeremiah Brogden to Izaiah Carter, several City School students have died by gun violence

Monday morning, Scott met with leaders from Baltimore City Schools, Baltimore Police Department, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and the health department to discuss how they can better collaborate to attack youth violence.

“They are dying over simple, petty fights, things that historically would not end in that,” Scott said.

Leaders like Dr. Sonja Santelises and Commissioner Michael Harrison said they’ve noticed a pattern of the violence among youth happening at certain times throughout the day.

“We’ve already invested a great deal and our weapons detection, but I think as you heard from the mayor, a lot of what we’re seeing is outside of school, it is near school, near rec centers,” Santelises said.

“I don’t know that any of them are related. What we know is that they’re happening slightly before school dismisses or slightly after school dismisses,” Harrison said.

This is why the mayor called the meeting to talk about how they can develop a better response when this happens, and how they can attempt to prevent it from happening in the future.

Shantay Jackson, the director of MONSE, said part of this dual pronged approach was implemented for the first time at Patterson High School. It happened after 16-year-old Izaiah Carter was killed at a park right next to the school.

RELATED: Patterson High School student shot, killed at Joseph E. Lee Park

“We were able to have very intensive conversations in a focused way with individuals who we know are at the highest risk of being perpetrators of violence or victims of violence,” Jackson said.

Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, the health commissioner for Baltimore City, talked about the deeper rooted issues causing the culture of violence among youth, some of which stemmed from the pandemic.

“We saw young people experiencing more isolation, many young people who already have what we call adverse childhood experiences or aces, that predispose them potentially to violent acts. So that on top of the isolation, on top of the lack of mental health support and easier access to guns. We know that it’s contributing to what we are seeing, not just in Baltimore but nationally,” Dr. Dzirasa said.

It's why Mayor Scott is encouraging parents to get involved so they too can join the efforts to end youth violence.

“The first thing for the parents is that we love their children, and we feel like their children are our children as well, and that we’re gonna do everything in our power to keep them safe. This is about keeping our most precious resource alive, and we can only do that if we all work together,” Scott said.

City leaders said one of the focuses of Monday’s meeting was intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing so they can create the best strategy to combat this youth violence.

This will be a continuing conversation that will happen between city leaders across different agencies.