Recent violence among youth has some searching for ways to keep them on right track

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 10:59 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Shocked and saddened - that’s how James Hopkins feels after hearing about a group of young people accused of going on a crime spree in the Capital City.

Montravious Baker, 15, Tyrese Hodges, 20, and Khaliaya Williams, 18, are facing murder, armed carjacking, and armed robbery charges.

“I think it’s sad that a 15-year-old could have committed as many crimes as he is old,” said Hopkins.

Reaching the youth before they go down the wrong path is something Hopkins knows all about. He works with them through his organization, the Hopkins Foundation.

“Basically, I go into places, we set up teen summits to hear the youth side of how crime affects them,” Hopkins described.

He says it’s important to give the youth a chance to be heard and feel important. Many times, Hopkins believed they’re not given that opportunity.

”A lot of kids cry out,” Hopkins explained. “Some of them cry out because they’re lonely, some of them cry out because they just don’t have love. Some of them cry out because they may have been molested, but it takes everyone to work with these kids.”

As a result, Hopkins said many of them will lash out and seek the streets, or violence, to get the attention and love they’re craving. The community activist said he believes a lot of things can be solved with proper parenting.

”You have parents who are out of control, so that child is going to be out of control,” Hopkins expressed. “I don’t want to just bash the parents, but at some point, the parents have to take accountability.”

”I know some say, ‘Well, their grandparents and parents are doing the best they can,’” said Councilman Kenneth Stokes, who represents Ward 3. “Well, seek help. It’s some help out there.”

One way Councilman Stokes believes parents can be held accountable is through an ordinance the city passed last year. Under the ordinance, parents or guardians could face a $1,000 fee and up to six months behind bars if their child is convicted of a gun crime.

”I think the fine is not going to get their attention like jail time,” said Stokes. “Jail time is going to get their attention. They’ll realize that they must do something to keep these children under control.”

When it comes to the ordinance, it’s been in effect for roughly five months now.nHowever, so far, Stokes said no parent or guardian has been fined or arrested.

“I think the missing link is the shortage with the [Jackson] Police Department,” the councilman said. “The enforcement got to come from police, that’s why we need more police officers. We got the law, we just need enforcement from the police department. That’s why we need more police officers.”

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