INDIANAPOLIS — All three of the homicide victims killed in 2023 have been teenagers. It’s a tragic trend that’s grown over the last several years.
The latest victim, 17-year-old Brandon Banks, was killed on Ingram Street yesterday. On January 2, 15-year-old James Martin died and on January 3, 16-year-old Michael Mason Jr. was killed at the Castleton Square Mall.
Banks’ mom tells us he was a loving son who protected her. She said he loved his cousins, listening to music and playing basketball.
“You’ve just got to pour into these babies and keep pouring into them and not think that they’re not really going through things because they really are,” said Aaron Green, CEO of Struggle Made Me and Creator of Struggle University.
Green devotes his life to pouring into young people who remind him of himself at that age.
“I don’t think we’re paying enough attention to kids who were traumatized,” Green said.
Green says his group gives teens space to understand themselves and express their feelings.
“A lot of that pain and that anger and that frustration and that anxiety and all of that, stems from trauma,” Green said. “Give them a space where they feel like they can tell you anything, and without being judged and without being scrutinized.”
Green says finding the right mentorship is key for young people, along with achieving buy-in from their families.
“Understand if you get your child involved in a program, we have to be a family with the family,” Green said. “Not only are we pouring into you but we all gotta be on the same page so it’s constant pouring into them.”
The City of Indianapolis invests hundreds of thousands of dollars into youth programming. Recently, New BOY and VOICES Corp received $100,000 grants. Shardae Hoskins, Lead Program Manager for Violence Reduction at the city’s Office of Public Health & Safety, says they receive “half of the grant money this month and then they’ll get the other half about halfway in once they give data on the first six months of work.”
Like Green, Hoskins wants parents and guardians to get involved too.
“If they talked about conflict resolution today at the circle at New BOY, well then you can go home and talk a little bit about conflict resolution and how you resolve conflict and help connect the dots for your young person,” Hoskins said.
Contact information for area youth programs
VOICES Corp – firstname.lastname@example.org
New B.O.Y. – Kareem Hines: email@example.com
Inner Beauty – Chrystal Hines: firstname.lastname@example.org
Young Men Inc.: Rev. Malachi Walker: email@example.com