Teens name personal and neighborhood relationships as key to crime prevention

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Crime scenes plastered across screens is tough for all of us to see, but it is weighing on our young people.

“Trauma makes a really big dent in that development,” Brandon Randall said. “So, if all you hear is negativity, see negativity and you don’t have a balance of positive things coming in, then it distorts your reality of what’s really happening.”

Randall is the program director for the day-reporting effort at Voices Corp. Voices works with young people impacted by trauma and the juvenile justice system. Former Student Michael Owens explains how having reliable adults, like Randall, plays a pivotal role in helping teens thrive.

“Somebody that’s close to you that really understands you,” Owens said.

Like Owens, Former Student Ronnelle Collins insists strong relationships are foundational to keeping people safe. He believes connecting with neighbors does prevent crime.

“Because I feel like if we had a good relationship throughout the whole community, then people wouldn’t be killing each other,” Collins said. “Instead of killing each other, they’d be friends. We could have like meetings like we could have a huge basketball game everybody goes to. We could have cookouts like some churches have em.”

Aaron Green is a case manager at Voices. He is a constant in the lives of his present and past students.

“Most of all, you’ve gotta have genuine people that really love these kids, that are going to step into these neighborhoods and do what it takes to show these kids that they love them,” Green said.

Randall underlines the intricacy of trauma and teens. He insists young people need a voice in the on-going conversations about violent crime. He estimates over the last three years, 75% of his kids either had or have gun charges.

“Those kids are the ones often left out,” Randall said. “If we’re going to talk about gun violence, I’m talking to a kid with a gun charge.”

Tragically, a quick-fix solution seems out of reach right now, but those with Voices believe acknowledging the path that led us here and remaining steadfast will save lives.

“It’s lack of equitable access to housing, education, healthcare, mental health, all these things,” Randall said. “That took some time. So, it’s going to take equal amount of time to restore what we’ve done wrong.”

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