The African American Coalition of Indianapolis is calling for the community to become more involved in addressing youth violence
Despite a 17% decline for 2023 in overall homicides, the death of children under 18 has risen from 16 youth murders in 2019 to 23 in 2023.
With the latest victims being a 13-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl who were shot and killed last week in two separate incidents, the African American Coalition of Indianapolis is raising the question of how the community is going to start protecting youth.
“We have a disturbing trend in youth homicides going up year after year. It’s also disturbing because some of our youths are the perpetrators in these incidents. If we can’t protect our youth, then we can’t secure our future,” said Marshawn Wolley, AACI policy director.
In a statement, the organization said:
Our children should not be murdered in this city. Our children should not murder each other.
This year alone we have experienced the tragedy of the loss of the potential, talent, and aspirations of 23 young people taken from us before their time.
Their loss reverberates through families, friends, mentors, schools, neighborhoods, and the entire city.
We now must face a sobering reality. In too many instances, the work of guiding our youth to productive adulthood and citizenship challenges the capacity of parents, mentors, teachers, employers, churches, and community organizations, especially when they work alone, and not collaboratively with others concerned about the welfare of our children and community.
“When we’re looking at this problem, we have to ask how we support each other as a community. There’s a chance for advocacy in this problem, and there’s philanthropy as a solution. There are a lot of youth programs that are doing the work out here. They just need the support,” said Wolley.
“Local businesses in our communities can offer mentorship and jobs, encourage the youth and be more involved in the community you’re serving. The African American Coalition of Indianapolis, we want this to be a priority.”
The AACI statement continued:
This is a question for each adult, African American, Caucasian, Latino, Asian as well as the corporate, philanthropic, youth service, faith-based community, and governmental sectors.
We all must ask are we doing enough, even for one child, to create conditions of hope and success for all children.
What is being done to eliminate multi-generational poverty that is responsible for some youth engaging in risky behavior such as the drug trade to make money?
Why are Black males disproportionately represented in both the perpetrators and the victims of homicides and non-fatal shootings?
In the coming months the coalition will be engaged in discussions with the community and policy makers on policies that can impact the antecedents of community violence including mental health, affordable housing and food insecurity.
AACI’s specific call to action includes the following:
- The AACI will look internally to evaluate how our member organizations can better engage on this issue. We will assess how our members can increase the number of African American and others who will serve as mentors, coaches, and tutors.
- AACI’s policy agenda will include a focus on gun violence including ideas to eliminate their negative impact in our community. We join efforts such as the Marion County Youth Violence Prevention Coalition and others calling for responsible gun policies. We will also adapt our advocacy efforts regarding mental health with an increased focus on the mental health of our youth.
- We call for youth serving organizations, faith-based organizations, apartment property managers, and the city to continue conversations about how to address the issue of violence with a special focus on specific actions to improve the city’s community youth violence strategy. Young people, especially those in the highest risk populations for violence must be included in those conversations.
- We call on the philanthropic and business community to further provide resources for those most directly engaged in direct work with youth, young adults and families who’ve experienced violence. Support for volunteerism, tutoring, mentoring, access to food and clothing andother interventions we know may have some impact on both poverty and violence alleviation need expanded support. As a partner in the Indianapolis African American Quality of Life Initiative (IAAQLI) we will encourage additional strategies that address these concerns.
Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at 317-607-5792 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON.