The Hope of 2024: Reducing Youth and Family Violence in Indianapolis
By Denise Senter
In a recent Indianapolis Star article, “Stories of rising Indy youth violence ‘shock the conscience.’ But not everyone has given up.” (Jake Allen, Dec. 27, 2023), important content on current trends in youth violence, the impact of loss due to violence on an Indianapolis family, and several community leaders addressing this important issue was covered. While it seems we hear news of gun violence on a daily and nightly basis, it is striking to learn that the number of youth homicides has decreased. This is hopeful and good news. Yet, while this decrease is true of youth ages 17 and younger, the stats for shootings and homicides for youth ages 18-24 are increasing. Those who work with youth and parents who are bearing the brunt of this violence can tell you that the violence and the cause of the violence are complicated and varied. Many of the challenges youth and families face today are different from those faced by a generation ago. The solutions needed to help resolve the challenges requires creative and dedicated commitment.
As one of our trusted community partners, Kareem Hines (President of New Boy, Inc.) stated during a recent Violence forum at Reach For Youth, “Attention is the new currency.” Many of our youth are trying to be seen, want to be with “the cool ones”, and do not want to be left out. We have to do this work differently.” Mr. Hines, those cited in the Indy Star article, and several key community groups provide dynamic intervention for families, teens, and young adults. Their work is having an impact. Important change is occurring in cities like Indianapolis, and Chicago, and rural counties are caught off guard by problems once thought to be “urban” problems. These interventions involve community leaders, grassroots warriors, parents, teachers, pastors, police and first responders, and youth.
The continuation of this work, including the work of agencies like Reach For Youth, promises hopeful, meaningful change – a change that will provide generational impact. In 2024, all of us engaged in this work look to continue a dedication of relational commitment to youth and families, knowing that in the doing of this work, there is great cause for Hope, Healing, and Help. May you have a safe beginning to 2024.