Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Recent Youth Violence in Syracuse Could be Impacted by More, Better Youth Programming

Over the past two months, 12 people 19-years-old and younger have been shot or stabbed in Syracuse. Add to that a 16-year-old pleading guilty in the killing of another teen just this week. 

Some organizations that provide after-school and other youth programs say such activities can steer kids away from violence.

“If you’re out on the street and you have nothing to do and you’re just hanging out, you’re more apt to make a connection with a gang member, and then become a gang member," says Family Councilor Dr. Tricia Lyman

Doctor Tricia Lyman of Huntington Family Centers says it’s about belonging.

Huntington offers youth programs in summer and during the school year

“If you have an outlet to go to an after-school program or a youth program or a church program, and make a connection there, you’re going to find your place there.  You can find your friends there and it’s not going to be the peer pressures of drugs and alcohol and violence.”

Huntington has homework help and fun activities, with educational and health components.  They also offer programs where kids work in the community, even help others, to make neighborhood connections.  Syracuse YMCA CEO Mike Brown says programs at community centers fill an important need.

Youth programs help kids find belonging and engagement; YMCA CEO Mike Brown says some families can afford such activities, but community programs help other kids.

“I think where families have resources, they find things for their kids to do.  But 48% of our kids in the Syracuse area are in poverty so there’s not as many options and the ‘Y’ is working hard to make sure that there are.”

Mike Brown explains why youth programs are important in having kids develop healthy habits and lives.

The daily programs offered through The ‘Y’ include swimming, music and theater, along with STEM workshops.   Brown wonders if it’s enough.

“We’re not moving the needle in a positive direction.  So I think that the ‘Y’ and other organizations, while we’re all working hard to resolve this, I think what’s happening in Syracuse is we’re all working parallel and not together.”

Recent Holiday decorations at Huntington for kids.

Lyman, over at Huntington, also sees a lack of resources from elected leaders and communities, something that recent youth violence could put into the spotlight. 

Dr. Lyman says youth programming ties together with parenting to change negative directions that are generational, and argues for more support for such programs.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.