Youngstown teens seek end to violence

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A group of Youngstown teens wants to see an end to violence in their community.

But they’re not just talking about it. They’re directly involved in the initiative.

They plan on taking what they learned Tuesday night at a non-violence town hall back to their schools and neighborhoods.

Micah Smith, a senior at Youngstown Early College, has been part of a non-violence movement in her school for the past two years. She hopes leading by example will spark change in the hallways of her school.

“You have to practice it. You got to continue to practice it. It’s not a one day thing,” Smith said.

She said there’s the obvious physical violence, but verbal attacks are just as bad.

“Like the ‘N’ word, the ‘H’ word, the ‘B’ word. It can really hurt somebody,” Smith said.

Knowing how to address this in the school when they see it was one of the lessons at the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (C.I.R.V.) town hall meeting. It was simulcast throughout the city of Youngstown.

“We want them to work in their own neighborhoods, in their own schools. We know that we can’t do everything, but together where we are, we can make a difference,” C.I.R.V. director Guy Burney said.

Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees said violent crime in the city has been going down for a few years. Officers are getting more guns off the streets and they are making arrests.

“It was off last quarter by about 30 percent. We’re down on homicides right now, but of course that can change overnight,” Lees said.

But Burney said it is never enough and there is always more work to do.

Some of the students at the meeting are peacekeepers and are charged with making changes in their schools. Smith only has a few months left before graduation, but is determined to be an example.

“Maybe if someone looks at me and sees that I am not doing violent things, they would be non-violent as well,” she said.

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