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Indy leaders: Mentoring key to decrease youth violence

Posted: 5:38 PM, Jan 06, 2017
Updated: 2017-01-06 22:38:39Z

INDIANAPOLIS – Four of the teens involved in the series of fights that broke out at Castleton Square Mall the day after Christmas will face charges – and city leaders are concerned.

The trend in youth violence in the city is increasing but most believe mentorship and activities specifically for youth can combat those issues.

Indiana Black Expo President Tanya Bell said while organizations such as the Ten Point Coalition and the YMCA offer ways to keep youth out of trouble, it’s up to the community to engage the young people.

“Growing up I had a mentor. I came from a home of a single parent family where folks would consider it dysfunctional, but I had that mentor,” said Bell.

According to MENTOR, an organization championing to expand quality youth mentoring relationships across the country, finds 1 in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor, but those that do have an advantage.

The organization finds young adults who were at-risk for falling off track, but had a mentor are:

·         55 percent more likely to enroll in college

·         78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly

·         90 percent are interested in becoming a mentor

·         130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions.

“I had someone who inspired me, coached me and I ended up going down the right path,” said Bell. “We have to wrap our arms around the kids and we have to be able to work together to make sure we’re guiding them in the right direction.”

Bell said by getting youth on the right path, it will help to combat the future rise of the city’s homicide rate which was at a record high of 149 in 2016 .

For a list of mentoring programs in the Indianapolis area, visit doe.in.gov