Georgia Advocacy Group Calling For Changes To End Youth Violence

An advocacy group in Georgia is working to end youth violence by calling for changes at home and legally. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 10-24.

In Georgia, increasing youth gun violence has led to a sharp rise in the number of children and teenagers killed by gun violence.

“In 2021, more than two dozen children and teenagers were killed by gun violence in metro Atlanta and several others were injured. That violence has continued in 2022,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. “As of Dec. 4, there have been at least 71 children under the age of 18 shot. Of them at least 37 have died.”

In order to combat the epidemic, Polly McKinney with Voices for Georgia’s Children says it all starts with a conversation. 

“Whether you agree with them or not, they’re trying to tell us things, and if they can’t tell us with words, they will tell us with actions,” McKinney said. “What we work on is trying to make sure our government policies, at all levels, support families, and children. We make sure that people learn how to listen better to our kids, and our families, when they’re asking for help.”

“It is driven by something. Whether they have a behavioral health diagnosis, or not, or need behavioral health services. Whether they are responding to a lot of adverse childhood experiences, anything from poverty, to real or perceived racism, to sexual abuse, to watching a parent or caregiver be abused,” McKinney explained.

“What we do know is, when children are heard, and we listen to them. And don’t judge for how they’re feeling, we can make a lot of headway in preventing violence,” she added.

McKinney encourages families to be willing to ask for help.

“A lot of children feel isolated from support and I think that those things are just a few of the many things that can drive children to act out,” McKinney explained. “If you think that your child and probably family needs behavioral health support, and mental health support, because sometimes you have to wrap the family in it, as well, to help the child, ask at your school, call your local community service board to ask for help.”

D & B Staff

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Episode 68