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In our city: A cry for help

The recent rash of youth crime in the city of Syracuse has people up in arms.

The shooting deaths of Henninger High School graduate Kihary Blue, 19, and toddler Rashaad Walker Jr. stunned the entire community.

"Enough." That is the cry of the people who live on these increasingly crime-ridden streets.

It's time to take action so that the families living in these neighborhoods, paralyzed by fear, can have their lives back. But first, we need to understand why this is happening before we can help.

There are several risk factors to juvenile crime; causal effects include living in poverty stricken areas that often expose youth to violence and drug abuse very early, getting into "the wrong crowd," easy access to firearms and broken or unstable families. City Police Chief Frank Fowler confirmed this in his speech to community leaders earlier this month: Youth crime is as much social as it is criminal.

Fowler said in order to prevent youth crime, structure has to be provided for young people. Where this is not available at home, military-type schools should be formed to mold children through high school. This would give children the discipline, education and sense of belonging they so desperately need.

Local non profit organizations approach the problem from a different angle. They believe the root cause of violence is poverty and are engaged in a long-standing campaign to abate it.

Habitat for Humanity, Visions For Change, Home Headquarters and Catholic Charities, to list a few, work on issues such as affordable housing, job training, mental health and education to transition people out of poverty.

Every part of the process will have to involve the full commitment of the wider Syracuse community. To become a part of the solution, volunteer with one of the organizations below:

Habitat for Humanity, 422-2230, syracusehabitat.org

Visions For Change, 218-0938, vfcinc.org

Home Headquarters, 474-1939, homehq.org

Catholic Charities: 424-1800, ccoc.us

Salvation Army: 475-1688, sasyr.org

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