Officials want input from teens in tackling violence problem

A shooting at North Sherwood Forest Community Park left an 18-year-old injured.
A shooting at North Sherwood Forest Community Park left an 18-year-old injured.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Using feedback from teenagers throughout the area to tackle the problem of violent crime is the idea behind a panel discussion being held Monday morning in downtown Baton Rouge.

The Baton Rouge Police Department responded to a shooting at North Sherwood Forest Community Park on Sunday that sent an unidentified 18-year-old to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the arm.

"I don't like crime," said Julien Odom of the Young Leaders Academy, said. "It's evil, chaos."

Odom, 11, Bria Price, 17, and Jonathan-Terrell Clark, 16, gave their take on why they believe crime is a growing problem among teens in the area.

"I think that's the problem, like a lot of teens are scared to come out and say this is right and it's okay that it's right," said Price, a member of the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition.

"Some of the males don't have father figures in their life, so it's either they're going to be out in the streets or it's a preacher and most of the time, it's the streets that's raising them," added Clark, an intern with the Level Up program.

Many who live in the community want to see a reduction in crime and area leaders are no different. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore and others are asking for help in addressing the problem.

"The best thing we do is try to learn from these kids," Moore said.

He, along with Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden and members of the BRAVE initiative will host a teen town hall meeting with the idea of using area input to help address youth crime.

"We don't know what they know and we don't feel what they feel and we want to know that and want to experience that so we can treat them better and serve them better. They have all the information and we just need to know what it is and often times they don't have a forum to let us know," Moore added.

He said the real solution to the problem comes from inside the communities themselves, an idea Clark agrees with. He said it's about helping the kids in need and using positive influence to prevent them from making costly decisions.

"Good role models in areas where there's crime, so maybe it could be your parents, someone you look up to, could be a rapper, could be anyone, just to influence teens to do better in life and not go down the wrong road," Clark explained.

The Teen Town Hall Meeting will be held at 10 a.m. at the Family Youth Center on a Government Street.

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