INDIANAPOLIS — The numbers are concerning; more kids under 18 killed or injured in shootings this year than last. Murders of young people increased by 22% and non-fatal shootings by 29%.
But, police and justice system-connected youth say the most pressing issue is the “why” behind young people finding themselves amid gunfire. VOICES Corp. students Michael Jackson and Adres Walker will tell you the many reasons Indy’s young people carry guns.
“My little brother, he got shot on accident,” Jackson said. “Took his last breath in my arms. I done had six friends die by the gun.”
You have to be 18 to carry a gun legally in Indiana. But police find younger kids possessing guns.
“Yeah, I mean, I think you would find some kids who carry it for protection,” IMPD Deputy Chief Kendale Adams said when asked whether it would surprise some people to know the number of kids who carry guns. “I live in a very violent neighborhood, I carry it for protection.”
Recently, we’ve reported kids bringing loaded guns to school and a shooting at a crowded high school football game. But IMPD says meetings with the schools’ police in Marion County are preventing crime.
“Just like the service providers are struggling with who are the right kids to focus on, that’s what we’re doing in these meetings,” Adams said.
Adams explained these meetings give officers a chance to discuss any budding issues in the schools as they identify which students or groups they need to focus on.
Shootings involving young people, both fatal and non-fatal, increased over last year. IMPD reports a 22% increase in murders among kids under 18 and a 29% increase in non-fatal shootings among the same group.
“I think we need to lean to data, we need to lean to touches with the criminal justice system and we need to lean and look at the structure that a youth has in order for it to be successful,” Adams said.
Adams expresses concern for pictures of guns, cash and violence spreading through social media and the impact on kids without a support system.
“A kid’s ability to understand how to de-conflict the images that they’re seeing is really a challenge,” Adams said.
If the community wants a picture of crime prevention and rehabilitation, VOICES illustrates it. Police and youth say it’s committed mentors who care about building a future kids’ past may have threatened.
“I’m telling you, without this program, I would have got out and right back on the same path,” Jackson said.
VOICES Corp is currently accepting school and community referrals for their family liberation program, day reporting program and mentoring. You can find more information on voicescorp.org/.
IMPD provided data by age group of murder victims and non-fatal shooting victims:
|YOA||2020 murder||2021 murder||Percentage Change|
|0 – 9||0||5|
|10 – 17||9||6||-33.33%|
|18 – 25||67||71||5.97%|
|26 – 35||46||54||17.39%|
|36 – 45||31||25||-19.35%|
|46 – 55||13||26||100.00%|
|56 & Up||9||23||155.56%|
|YOA||2020 non-fatal shooting||2021 non-fatal shooting||Percentage Change|
|0 – 9||5||8||60.00%|
|10 – 17||36||45||25.00%|
|18 – 25||226||229||1.33%|
|26 – 35||211||200||-5.21%|
|36 – 45||104||120||15.38%|
|46 – 55||37||44||18.92%|
|56 & Up||32||32||0.00%|