Community leaders guide families toward support as teen crime surges

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INDIANAPOLIS — Friday morning four teenagers were arrested for an armed carjacking on the west side. Some community leaders say this is all a part of an increase in teen crime recently.

”Within the last few months we’ve seen a big rash, an outgrowing of teen violence and it’s concerning,” said Malachi Walker, the founder of Young Men, Inc.

Walker said whether it’s teenagers involved in carjackings or using guns, he’s seeing an increase.

”The first question asked is, ‘Where are the parents?'” said Walker.

But, Walker and Brandon Randall, the director of engagement for VOICES, said not to rush to conclusions. There is often a lot going on at home taking away a parent’s attention.

”We have to get away from rushing to blame somebody and do a better job of collaborating with parents,” Randall said.

What frustrates Walker the most is when parents see their child going down the wrong path and don’t reach out for help.

”We want to help. Parents, just give me a call and we’re going to sit down and work this thing out,” he said.

At the same time, Randall said groups like theirs need to also reach out to parents and teens.

”Parents get frustrated and they get desensitized to support so they stop reaching out,” he said.

Randall said the focus needs to be on the root causes of these crimes and the rough past couple of years for kids with the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in homicides in Indianapolis.

”Young people have been through a lot. Until we get to that root cause we’re just continually chasing that surface level behavior and that’s not helpful for anybody,” Randall said.

At the end of the day, Walker said everyone should be working together to help teenagers.

”It’s about taking our young people and finding some connections with organizations or programs out there who can help,” he said.

Here are some of the organizations around Indianapolis geared toward helping teenagers.

Young Men, Inc. An outreach ministry of Great Commission Church of God designed to empower African American males, ages 9–16, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The Boys and Girls Club PIVOT Re-engagement CenterWorks with young people 16-24 on the far east side, using basketball and sports as a way to get youth in the door and setting them up to succeed, whether through mentorship, support in finding a job/education opportunities and more.

VOICES Corp.To enhance the lives of youth and families through the expression of self, community involvement and providing options that will empower them to change their lives. Through culturally sustaining education, healing-centered engagement and workforce development, VOICES provides the relationships, resources and opportunities for youth to heal, grow and further their path towards economic self-sufficiency and civically engaged lives.

100 Black Men of Indianapolis, Inc.The 100 conducts programs for young people in K –12th grades and post-secondary education that focus on mentoring, education and leadership development. Our programs impact students’ personal development and academic achievement. The majority of students involved in our programs display increased self-esteem, personal responsibility and motivation to succeed in school.

Marion County Commission for YouthThe mission is to champion the positive development of youth through leadership on key issues and support of the youth worker community.

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