How to Reduce Youth Violence | WYPR

How to Reduce Youth Violence

Jun 4, 2014

From left: Kayanna Johnson, Sheilah Kast, DeShawn Batson and Kelsey Johnson.
Credit Jamyla Kay

At least ten Baltimore teenagers have been murdered this year.  The trauma for their families ripples through their communities, and the city worries about what the summer will bring.  Last week 16-year-old Oscar Torres was fatally shot sitting in a Ford Fusion that was carjacked; police say the same car killed 12-year-old Shanizya Taft the next day in East Baltimore.

Oscar and Shanizya have become part of a sad roll of victims of violence:  Najee Thomas, 14; Michael Mayfield, 17, Tyquane Fetter, 18, Raysharde Sinclair, 18, Gregory Ware Jr., 18, Jowan Henry, 17, Lavar Crawford, 16, Dejuan Willis, 17.

What is behind so much violence aimed at Baltimore’s youth, or at least entangling them?  What can be done to stop it?

For some insights, we turned to the Baltimore City Youth Commission. Sheilah Kast spoke Kayanna Johnson, vice chair of the commission,  DeShawn Batson, who is vice chair for youth violence prevention, and Kelsey Johnson, PR manager. 

Then to talk about solutions, we turn to Councilman Brandon Scott, who represents the 2nd District in Baltimore City. And joining us by phone is Daniel Webster, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence.  He also directs the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.