Violence In Our Community:

Violence In Our Community:


The Season, The Sadness And The Solution




~ By Amber Houston

The Season: For many, summer means graduation ceremonies, barbeques and family reunions. For others, it means burying another part of our future from senseless violence that seems to increase with the summer temperatures. While life is just really beginning for high school graduates, life is also ending for others from violence in the community. Headlines of another bright light dimmed by the barrel of a gun seem frequent. Memorials adorned with teddy bears, candles and pictures can be seen around the city. The season that is meant to bring joy and celebration for some, seems to bring sadness and another reminder that violence among our young people is still prevalent today.

The Sadness: It’s not uncommon to watch the news without a story of a young person between the ages of 15-24 either murdered or being a participant in a murder. On Facebook there is a page called R.I.P Rochester with pictures of many lives lost in the last few years. Most of the pictures are of young people in their teens and early twenties; most of the deaths are due to violence. One of those highlighted is 20-year-old Kierra Jones
who was shot and killed on May 14th at a graduation party. “She was a lovely, fun-loving person with great ambition. She gave her best to everyone and she loved to have fun, sometimes she was a prankster,” said Sharon Hancock-Evans, Kierra Jones’s Great-Aunt.

The Solution: The question to be answered is “What is the cause of the violence that is claiming the lives of our youth and how can it be fixed?” In order to fix the problem one must examine the causes of how it came to exist in the first place: “You can’t really look at the violence in our community without looking at the underlying issues. Violence itself to me is a symptom of a greater problem,” states Eric Kittles, Program Operational Director at The Boys and Girls Club.

21-year old DeAndre Atkins was arrested a few years ago after hanging around the wrong crowd. Atkins had also experienced what it felt like to lose a loved one to violence when his cousin, Kentrel Boone, was killed back in 2010: “He was a good guy, a real mellow social person that could rap.” Despite the tribulations that life has thrown, Atkins learned from the experience and plans to attend Monroe Community College in the fall and to open up his own barbershop one day. “My advice for young boys is it’s not worth it. You taking somebody’s life. Somebody taking your life. Somebody
taking your relative’s life. That hurts,” states Atkins

“It starts at home but it doesn’t have to stay home. It’s the home, it’s the school, it’s the community based agencies, the churches. If we want a true change we need to start coming together,” says Kittles. It’s true that it takes a village to raise a child and instead of waiting for the government and the police to fix the problem it’s up to us to come together as a city and help our young people see beyond their current situations,
promote more positive opportunities and look to God to lead the way.