Serious offenses by juveniles are down nearly 10 percent this year in Shelby County. Some numbers are even more encouraging. This year, FOUR minors have been charged with murder; 15 years ago the number was 50. How do we explain this? Why do you think we’re experiencing such a dramatic decline in youth violence? Obviously, a lot of good people have been working to address this issue for years. Give us an example of a person or group or program you know about that deserves some credit. Where do you see people showing their faith in Memphis by addressing youth violence?
Throughout the Faith Community, there are mentoring programs designed to help our youth navigate the metamorphosis of maturation. In a guided sense of purpose, many churches and religious organizations and ministries have joined local government, to abate the crime of our youth.
I have joined pastors and missionaries in providing before and after school care for literally thousands of youth who would have been home alone and unsupervised from 3 p.m. to roughly 6:30 p.m. Most of our youth get in trouble from the time school is dismissed to the time their parents get home from work. There is a three headed monster that creates the environment for youth to join gangs and participate in criminal behavior without knowing the real consequences. The first head of that monster is poverty, followed by spiritual neglect and the lack of supervision.
Memphis has benefited from ministries in the urban setting for the past 12-15 years and we are now seeing the results from re-enforcement for academic pursuits and mentoring. The joy for me is to see faith based individuals stepping up from all walks of life, crossing racial and socio-economic lines to make a difference. Mayor AC Wharton has done lot in providing innovative programs for youth jobs and college preparation.
My goal in our Men to Boys Ministry at New Sardis Baptist Church and the Seek Ye the Old Path Homeless Shelter, is to see the Correction Corporation of America build private prisons that remain empty.