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IPS hosts forum to identify solutions for youth violence

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 7, 2016) -- Indianapolis Public Schools hosted a forum to try and identify solutions to youth violence.

The community conversation brought together students, teachers, IMPD officers, and community members at New Era Church on the near north side Thursday night.

For Arlington High School senior Jason Sledge and his fellow students, violence and crime are sometimes hard to ignore at school.

"One of our students was killed in February and I think that really hit us as a school hard. ... It was somebody we knew and I feel like that opened a lot of people’s eyes and opened my eyes (that) this is becoming a real problem," Sledge said.

It's what brought everyone together, breaking off into small groups that covered topics like gangs, mental health, mentoring, and graduation.

"One of the things we want to discuss is how we bridge that disconnect, how we embrace the idea of a collective impact," IPS Athletic Director Jamal Smith said.

That impact is one they hoped to make by simply sitting down and talking to each other.

The brainstorming sessions resulted in ideas that will be put together by the district into a larger plan of action. They plan to take the plan of action to city leaders, including Mayor Joe Hogsett, next month.

"We teach kids how to do math, we teach them English, why can’t we teach them peace? So that’s what we’re trying to do," Peace Learning Center Executive Director Tim Nation said.

For Sledge, it was a sign that things could be changing. He hoped that his peers would see what's happening and be a part of that change.

"I feel like they’re actually going to use our opinions instead of just bringing us here for show, it’s going to be valued and put into effect," Sledge said.

For more information, go to the link here.