OUR VIEW: To combat violence among Syracuse teens, community must coordinate

Violent criminal activity among city of Syracuse teenagers is on the rise — a tragedy Syracuse Police say is connected to the teens’ increasing involvement with gangs.

Teens faced with inadequate family support are turning to gangs as an alternative.

“Everybody wants to belong somewhere, and if you don’t have that family structure, you’re going to look for it somewhere else,” Sgt. Tom Connellan told The Eagle this week. “The gang becomes their family.”

A number of things needs to happen for this violence to be eradicated. The gangs must be targeted further. Family life in the homes of city teens must be strengthened.

But until conditions for Syracuse teens improve, it’s reassuring to know that there are resources they can turn to. Between the city’s Boys and Girls Clubs, the Southwest Community Center and the Mary Nelson Youth Center, our city’s troubled teens have places to go for refuge.

The staff and volunteers working at these centers are dedicated, and they deserve to be commended for their efforts.

Mary Nelson, director of the Mary Nelson Youth Center, wishes teens had more places to go. We agree wholeheartedly.

“I wish more doors were open in our community for kids to go, to seek out help,” she said.

Solving the problem of youth violence cannot be done without full community coordination, as Nelson pointed out.

“The mayor can’t do it herself, the chief of police can’t do it himself. We have to pull together and do things in our community,” she said.

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