LAWRENCE, Ind. – An Indianapolis youth mentorship group came together to discuss the recent spate of violence for the first time since a mass shooting at a Halloween party Sunday morning that left one dead and nine others wounded.
About 50 people made up of teens, parents and community members showed up at New Revelation Christian Church Wednesday night in Lawrence to talk about the violence during a leadership circle put on by New Breed of Youth (New B.O.Y).
The weekly conversation led by founder Kareem Hines moved to a bigger space on Wednesday to hold more people.
That’s because many kids from the group were at a Halloween party over the weekend where one 16-year-old died and nine other people were injured.
“Our philosophy of engaging with our kids is connection before correction,” said Hines. “Before you correct a kid, or try to reframe his or her mind about their goals and their future, you have to make a connection with them.”
The goal of the group is not only to talk to the teens about the problems they face but more importantly, to get them talking at all.
“The kids need a chance to talk about it, the adults need a chance to hear our kids,” Hines explained. “The stakeholders need a chance to hear our kids. We want to give our kids a platform to know that they are understood and that they are loved. But, we also want to shine light on the positivity that’s going on with our kids and our program and other programs because there’s a lot of positive things happening with our kids. And I think we need a balance. With so much negative news going on in the last week, I think our kids need a balance.”
Some of the teens at the meeting have been in and out of the system and some have been impacted by gun violence.
FOX59/CBS4 spoke to one teen at the meeting about the ongoing violence.
He was at the mass shooting over the weekend and asked that we hide his identity for safety reasons.
He says he constantly has his head on a swivel and is always keeping tabs on what groups are feuding.
“We’re numb to it at this point,” said the teen. “I wear chains that have a whole bunch of dead friends on it. It doesn’t really bother me as much as it used to.”
The teen and Hines say a key component to helping youth is giving them a safe space like this to talk about the violence.
“Just that one person who gets it. My mentor, he always says, ‘We don’t need 20 people, we just need the one person to understand,'” said the teen.
“We want the adults to see our kids are in pain and they need you, they need a connection other than social media, other than the internet. If they don’t get that connection, and they don’t get that love from us, they will get it from the streets,” said Hines.
If you or your teen would like to attend one of New B.O.Y’s weekly leadership circles, click here.
As for the shooting investigation, IMPD said Wednesday afternoon the department is making progress but didn’t want to share any updates at this time.