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.
“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.
“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.”
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.”
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.