Local groups get training on youth violence in Chattanooga
Community leaders are joining together to help prevent youth gang violence. Hear how you can help keep Chattanooga's kids off the streets.
Tuesday, July 22nd 2014, 10:32 PM EDT
Tuesday, July 22nd 2014, 11:12 PM EDT
Dozens of organizations across Chattanooga gathered Tuesday to learn how to deal with youth violence in the community.
The Front Porch Alliance teamed up with the Wake-Up Youth Foundation to give these organizations the tools necessary to help understand the crime.
"What we're seeing more of is the shooter isn't even old enough to shave," said TJ Johnson.
Johnson with the Wake-Up Youth Foundation says kids as young as nine and ten are involved in the violence and the people who work closely with them don't always know how to help.
"We've got to make sure people are properly trained to work within that community,” said Johnson.
Gang signs, flags and even gestures are things Johnson says every group needs to be educated on.
He says many we're probably already seeing it and didn't even know it.
"Now some of their eyes have been opened," said Johnson.
Erica Vaughn with Chattanooga Sports Ministry tells Channel 3 they work in several of the public housing neighborhoods with nearly 100 kids in their program.
She says they've noticed affiliations among the young kids.
"We see a lot of kids that have older siblings or parents that are involved in gangs and they're 13 and 14 year old kids throwing up gang signs in team pictures," said Vaughn.
She says they're always looking to educate themselves, to keep themselves and the kids they look after safe.
"We have to be careful of what color of uniforms we let the kids wear depending on their neighborhood. We have to avoid red and blue," said Vaughn.
Johnson says ultimately the change starts with the parents, but says the community needs to pull together to make a change.
"I think that's what the country has moved away from, we're doing intervention and moving away from prevention," said Johnson. "If we don't implement prevention then we're gonna see what they see in Chicago and other places where there's a spike of crime."