Teen summit held to find ways to help curb crime among youth

Published: Jun. 25, 2022 at 11:21 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Capital City continues to see an uptick in crime, especially among the youth.

In fact, just last month, three people under the age of 21 were charged in the killing of a 12-year-old.

Now, one teen summit is focusing on tackling this problem.

On Saturday, dozens gathered for the “Hear My Voice Teen Summit” in Jackson.

The summit allowed teens to have their voices heard as they give problems and possible solutions to fixing the city’s crime problems — problems that have impacted some of them personally.

“My cousin was shot, taken away from me,” said MaKayla Williams, speaking on the death of her 6-year-old cousin Kingston Frazier.

Williams explained how gun violence among the youth in Jackson caused her to lose two people close to her.

“I didn’t even get a chance to tell either one of them that I love them,” she expressed.

This heartbreak is why she and other teens attended the summit, discussing ways to curb crime among the city’s youth.

“We have all the town hall meetings to decide how we’re going to handle our teenagers. Today it’s time for our teenagers to let us know what works for them,” said Minister James Hopkins, who helped organize the summit. “It’s time to hear their voice instead of our voice.”

“A lot of kids that you see aren’t really bad, and that’s kind of what I want to push out. It’s really a part of the environment they’re in,” said Markel Watkins, who’s upset with the uptick in violence among the youth.

The teens say broken homes, not having any positive role models in their lives, and also not feeling loved or feeling that they matter are some of the major issues.

When it comes to solutions, they say it’s going to take people showing more love and investing time and energy into the younger generation while also providing them with more social, positive, and recreational activities and things to do.

“Us as a community should do better with gun violence. Everybody take a stand and just try to do better with gun violence because it may be somebody else just like me coming up here talking about somebody has been taken away from them,” said Williams.

“We hope that a great change comes over this city, comes over our youth, comes over our school, because the only way it works is if everybody is involved,” said Hopkins.

City, county, and state leaders, along with law enforcement officers with the Jackson Police and Hinds County Sheriff Departments, were also a part of this conversation with the youth on Saturday.

This summit was put on by the Hopkins Foundation along with New Vineyard Church in Jackson.

Hopkins said he hopes to have another teen summit within the next two weeks.

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