Dane County seek mentors to curb teen gun violence
Local leaders are asking community members to step up and connect with area teens.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - After a record year of crime in the City of Madison, local leaders are asking community members to step up and connect with area teens.
The number of shots fired calls in the city rose from 130 in 2019 to 233 in 2020.
“This came out of a need to address the rise in gun violence that we have seen not just in the community but across the nation,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.
A number of community leaders are looking to stop youth-led crime and call on more people to participate in local mentorship programs.
In a new PSA, individuals share the devastating impact gun violence has had on their own lives, and ways mentoring can help teens.
“Young people can know if you really care about or really love them,” said Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson.
He is working to connect mentors with young people in the community.
“It’s not about giving anybody anything,” said Johnson. “It’s not about a hand-out, it’s about a hand up.”
Rafael Ragland says he’s all too familiar with the loss of life due to unnecessary violence.
“I feel for these young people that are shooting guns,” said Ragland. “I feel for these young lives that are being taken.”
He is a close family friend of Anisa Scott, the 11-year-old who was shot last August.
Ragland says her death inspired him to connect even further with young people through his film company, So Grateful Films.
“It’s just letting me know even more that I have to get out of here and dedicate my life to these young kids that don’t know any better,” said Ragland.
Corey Marionneaux, the founder of the Black Men Coalition, says he understands how easy it is for kids to get off track.
“When we lose that hope, we start having violence in our life,” said Marionneaux. “I believe when I was younger if I had the opportunity to know of all the resources that were offered today, I believe I would have been a much better person at a much younger age.”
Community partners say these changes to a safer, better community won’t come immediately.
“The transition of this change from violence to doing something positive is continued work,” said Marionneaux. “It’s not an overnight thing.”
But local leaders are optimistic pairing teens with a mentor can have an impact on the future.
“We could end up seeing violence that we see in larger metropolitan cities and I know that this community can do better and be better,” said Johnson.
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a mentor or serving as a volunteer for a local agency, visit volunteeryourtime.org
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