Youth mentorship programs can have profound impact on young people exposed to violence, psychologist says

Indianapolis Area Crime

INDIANAPOLIS — At least 142 people have been killed so far this year. The violence in Indy creates devastating ripple effects throughout our entire community.

Thankfully some invested adults are committed to encouraging our young people to rise above the violence. Mental health experts say a trusted adult and a safe environment can help children exposed to frequent community violence heal.

“This should bother you,” Kareem Hines, founder of a youth mentorship program, says to his students as he shows them a map of the most recent shooting outbreak in Indy. “Not only should it bother you, somebody should be sitting down and having a conversation.”

Hines founded New B.O.Y. which stands for New Breed of Youth. He does not shy away from raw conversations with those in his care.

“In order for us to start making a correction with these young men, we have to make a connection,” Hines said.

New B.O.Y. helps students work to overcome hardships either they’ve caused for themselves or someone else has caused them. They celebrate what’s positive.

Member Jay’Von Taylor started selling t-shirts a few weeks ago and has already made hundreds of dollars. But the self-worth he’s gained is an additional reward.

“It was definitely different just because I’m like, the legal way, that’s a cool amount,” Taylor said.

Jay’Von was locked up when his friend was killed, and he said that made grieving harder. He is certainly not alone in the group when it comes to experiencing violence, and certainly not alone in Indianapolis.

“Whether you feel safe or not is really fundamental to your ability to do anything else,” Zachary Adams, psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine.

Adams said constant exposure to violence can impact a person’s ability to thrive.

“If you imagine being in a situation where you don’t feel safe all the time, that’s sort of the mode that your brain or your body are in constantly,” Adams explained.

The good news is Adams said finding a supportive group and safe places to spend time can help young people heal.

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