Community leaders address teens committing violent crimes in the Midlands

Community leaders address teens committing violent crimes in the Midlands

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Shootings, stabbings, and break-ins are now commonly becoming teenage crimes.

“Young people aren’t afraid of the police, they’re not afraid of going to jail,” said Juanita Dean-Bates from the Columbia Urban League. “Some people feel like that’s a rite of passage, and I don’t know where that came from.”

One of the latest cases happening just days ago after police say a teen attacked deputies who were trying to serve a juvenile pick-up order for a probation violation. The teen shot at officers from his porch on Red Winds Court and then fled into the woods before deputies found him the next morning about 6.5 miles away.

“Where did they get the gun,” Dean-Bates asked. “How does a 15-year-old get a gun, and who sold it to them?”

Dean-Bates spends her days working with the Columbia Urban League to make sure young people in South Carolina have a positive outlet to occupy their time. She says it’s time for parents to start having the tough conversations that could keep their kids from ending up behind bars…or worse.

“When it’s too late, then they’re either incarcerated or they’re dead. That’s when it’s too late,” Dean-Bates said. “A lot these kids, there’s nothing for them to do. One of the things that the urban league helps supply are summer jobs.”

The Urban League offers employment opportunities, mentorships, academic enhancement programs, and more so that kids have positive ways to spend their time. Local school board leaders say we need everyone in the community to step in before we have more children are committing adult crimes.

“I think we as parents, as caregivers, as community members who care about our youth, we have to get engaged,” said James Manning of the Richland District 2 School Board. “We have to talk to our children and we have to listen to what they’re telling us.”

Between gangs, social media influence, and peer pressure, young folks in the Midlands could fall through the cracks. Leaders say it’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“I don’t ever say ‘Give up on a child,’” Dean-Bates said.

If you’re interested in the Columbia Urban League, they offer programs to children and teens at counties around the state. They can be reached at 803-799-8150.

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