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Durham looks to teens to battle gang violence

Posted August 15, 2011
Updated August 16, 2011

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— City leaders inducted 35 teenagers into the Durham Youth Commission Monday evening, as part of an ongoing effort to battle gang-related and teen-on-teen violence.

Youth commissioner candidates were asked to write an essay about three problems they hoped to tackle in their communities if given the opportunity to advise city leaders on issues affecting young people.

"Gang violence being one of (those issues)," said 16-year-old youth commissioner Jakayla Hart. 

The May murder of 13-year-old Shakanah China, who was shot while standing with friends outside her home on Atka Court, peaked concerns about teen violence, city leaders said. One week after China's death, an 18-year-old and 19-year-old were shot to death on Wadesboro Street.

"It is scary because it could easily be us," Hart said.

Hart said she thinks city leaders should focus on starting programs that will keep teens busy and out of trouble.

Youth commission member Briana Kelly, 16, said she's passionate about Durham and believes education can cure many of the problems she sees in her community.

"Education is the basis of everything," she said.

Briana Kelly Durham teens have city leaders' ears

Commission members serve a one-year term, during which they work at a local youth center.

Durham police released crime statistics Tuesday showing that violent crime – including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – was up 2 percent during the first six months of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010.

Property crime – burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft – was down by 5 percent. Reported rapes were down and robberies, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts were at three-year lows, according to Durham police.

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  • BullsEye Aug 16, 2011

    Quote from whess: "I am extremely proud of these girls."

    I think the key word here is "girls". A solid majority of the problems are coming from boys. They live in a culture that disrespects women. Do you honestly believe that violent boys are going to listen to a bunch of girls?

    We need young black men to lead the charge and bring these boys back in line. Black men in these neighborhoods need to teach their sons respect, honor, integrity, and how to treat women. Black women and black girls can't do it.
    Pseudonym
    August 16, 2011 12:43 p.m.

    Sure, go and tell that to some of the black women I know.

  • Pseudonym Aug 16, 2011

    Quote from whess: "I am extremely proud of these girls."

    I think the key word here is "girls". A solid majority of the problems are coming from boys. They live in a culture that disrespects women. Do you honestly believe that violent boys are going to listen to a bunch of girls?

    We need young black men to lead the charge and bring these boys back in line. Black men in these neighborhoods need to teach their sons respect, honor, integrity, and how to treat women. Black women and black girls can't do it.

  • YippiYiyoKiYay Aug 16, 2011

    webstermelba...Ok, I have to disagree, the police do a great job with what they have to work with. You are right about one thing. There needs to be more PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for doing the right thing for children. The "mess" you speak of is a self inflicted wound brought on by tolerence and parental non participation. Children will follow the example that is set before them.

  • Bill of Rights Aug 16, 2011

    flashsparks: I disagree. These kids are taking action *despite* the mess that their (figurative) parents left behind. I have no idea what their individual family lives are like, but the situation they're trying to grapple with isn't their generation's fault. If we wait for the adults to do something, we'll be waiting a long time. The adults' time has come and gone; now it's time for responsible citizens like these young people to lead forth.

  • BullsEye Aug 16, 2011

    I am extremely proud of these girls. As a Durham native it's refreshing to see this and if they need any help I would love to get involved. What a novel idea they have...hit the streets with a message instead of debating liberals, welfare and gunlaws on the internet. Who is really making a change?

  • autismawareness Aug 16, 2011

    hey mom (since most don't know their dad),
    how about getting off your lazy rear and raising your kids to be respectable citizens?

  • aspenstreet1717 Aug 16, 2011

    this is the direct result of government enabling.

  • autismawareness Aug 16, 2011

    headline should state...

    Durham looks to AK-47s to battle gang violence

  • flashsparks Aug 16, 2011

    "NAACP/ or Barbour will not attempt to tackle this problem since it will only expose more the lack of effect or respect of him ..."

    That may be so. But the real reason why Barber/NAACP doesn't try to solve this problem is because they have nothing to gain politically. They can't as easily demagogue this issue and yell Racism like they can with other issues like the Wake Co. school board.

    I applaud these young people for trying to solve the problem. They should be highly commended. But the real solution needs to come from the adults.

  • rickandlinda88 Aug 16, 2011

    i am tired of hearing that crime is down in durham.that has got to be a lie..who ever comes up with these numbers must be twisting the facts.gangs;ethnic groups;whatever;young boys and girls are commiting lots of crimes.the powers that be in this city do not want the entire truth told..might hurt their chance at re-election;and mess up their incomes.way too many foxes guarding the hen houses..

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