Youth Violence in Memphis

Growing up in the city of Memphis, I have seen first-hand the turmoil caused by violence among our youth. I grew up in a tough neighborhood in Memphis, but I was provided an education in a better, or a more non-violent, part of town than where I resided.  I am only saying this to say that your community does not indefinitely reflect the person you are to become. I was lucky enough to have support from family and friends to push me in the right direction. It seems everywhere I turn I am reminded and saddened by lack of positivity influencing the upbringing of our future generations today. As of about a week ago, residents of Memphis are now watching over their shoulder at the grocery stores.  Though the city’s crime-rate may have decreased over the years, the day to day crimes acted out by the city’s youth still make me weary.

When I start thinking of ways to get the youth more involved in a positive way, I think about the community centers and programs specifically for our youth. Today I don’t think there are many. We have after school care programs, but I feel as if that only helps a little when it comes to pre-teens. Teenagers, or high school children, are typically more independent.  In the case of young adults, ages 18 and older, they exercise free-will, and we hope for the best. According to an article in the Memphis Flyer, “58 of the 119 lives that fell victim to homicide in Memphis this year were between the ages of 18 and 34.” Recently there was a meeting called the Youth Violence Prevention Forum held at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library to brainstorm ideas to help reduce the violence among the youth in the city and find better ways for them to spend their time. Among others ideas, creating a database to share info on the services and ways that the youth could benefit from was discussed.

I haven’t had much experience, as I am only 23 years old, but I am of the young population in Memphis. I feel as if there is nothing to do in the area to keep our youth involved. Schools are losing funding for programs that interest the kids, such as music and art. There aren’t many fun activities to take the place of mischief and they go looking for things to do, which leads to trouble. There are not many places that cater to the younger crowd. Memphis didn’t have too many options to begin with, but the closing of Libertyland and Jillian’s, the game place that was downtown, didn’t help. As the city officials try to build up downtown and other areas, I hope they incorporate something for people of a younger age. I’m sure they get tired of movies every weekend and roaming downtown until they can’t anymore.

First and foremost, let me say I believe parents should play the main role in searching for ways to decrease the violence of our youth, starting with ways to help your child advance. My parents always kept track of where I was and who I was with. That seems like a foreign concept now. Home training starts at home with the guardians. The police can only pick them up after something happens. But to prevent violence, which is my whole point, I believe the support and guidance of our communities can make all the difference.

Link to article in Memphis Flyer: