INDIANAPOLIS – Several young students across Indianapolis are taking a pledge against gun violence.
This comes as the Circle City has already outpaced last year’s number of shootings involving Indy youth. On Wednesday, a group of Indianapolis mothers who lost their kids to gun violence spoke with local students about the reality of violent crime.
The gathering comes on what community advocates call the “Day of National Concern about Young People and Gun Violence.”
The children waved their posters left and right outside Fay Biccard Glick Neighborhood Center. Donita Royal, founder of Mothers Against Violence Healing Ministry, organized Wednesday’s pledge against violence. She lost her son to gun violence 10 years ago.
Royal said it is important to talk to kids early on in their lives and argues children are never too young to learn about the realities of gun crime.
“Because it starts when they’re young,” Royal said. “There are things going on in the city and all over the world. You got to get them young so they can make better choices.”
Others like Debera Green also shared their stories and spoke with kids. She lost her grandson to gun violence as well.
“When we lose a loved one to any type of violence, it affects the whole unit,” Greene said. “It affects the home, the brothers, the aunties, the uncles, the children, the teachers. It affects every single one.”
The group said kids need to hear this because the crime is not stopping. In fact, the number of juvenile shootings is up this year.
“A lot of times we see amongst our teenagers in these shootings is that it’s the smallest things, it’s the smallest beefs, per se,” described Officer William Young with IMPD.
According to IMPD, there have been 54 juvenile non-fatal shootings this year, which is up from 52 all of last year.
There have also been 16 total juvenile homicides this year, 14 of which involved guns, compared to a record 19 juvenile homicides last year.
“We’re going to let them know this is not the way,” Royal said.
Officer Young said this is the type of community engagement Indianapolis needs.
“I believe it’s targeting the right group of people because we know our younger people are our future,” he said. “So hopefully that message transpires throughout our community.”
Seeing kids pledge against violence is not only healing to those who have lost loved ones to gun crime but it also brings a sense of hope for the future.
“Dealing with the babies and the little ones, it makes it feel better,” said Arnitra Torrence, who is Royal’s daughter. “Just want them to make the best decisions in life.”
Time and time again, IMPD has talked about proper conflict resolution. That was another big part of Wednesday night’s discussion with the students.