Differing strategies to prevent youth violence are being weighed by Lexington’s city leaders. A nine month study by the Commission on Youth Development and Public Safety produced several recommendations. It suggests spending 150 thousand dollars to hire 150 more teens in the city’s summer youth employment program over two years. It would begin in 2013. City, business, and volunteer support would go to expand park programs this summer. Urban County Council member Chris Ford offered the report Tuesday at city hall. He says youth suggestions are being sought.
“To allow them the opportunity to share with us their needs, their concerns, ways that we can be of benefit to them,” said Ford.
The issue came to a head last summer after several shootings. Just this past weekend, a sixteen year old high school student was fatally shot. Urban County Council member Tom Blues emotionally pleaded “Is there anything we are gonna do to get guns out of the hands of our children?” Veteran police officer, Lawrence Weathers served on the 50 member commission.
“The guns don’t just materialize out of thin air..They get them from somebody,…whether somebody brings them into a neighborhood..or whether somebody’s parent is lax in those controls,” said Weathers.
Weathers says it’s critical to have neighborhood involvement to report these kinds of concerns. The council also heard from representatives of the Lexington Youth Initiative. Kerby Neill says real solutions may come from the community.
“Part of it is not doing enough soon enough..the other thing is we need a model that starts at a grass roots level…not a top down model where the government is gonna change some of its programming…do more programming…we want to see a much broader range of community involvement,” added Neill.
The council did not act on the commission report. Some of the funding issues could be included in the Mayor’s budget to be unveiled in April.