In 2014, Grays said her then 13-year-old son had to appear in court after he was caught with a gun. His next arrest was for gang fighting.
"I went to court 28 times with my son. I had to go to court 28 times,” said Grays, who mentioned her son’s demeanor changed after her husband and oldest son passed away. Grief took over, and she admits she did not pay enough attention to her son.
“Their attitude changes, you see them walking around like they're cocky,” said Grays. “They walk around like they are fearless of anything."
Several teens in similar cases have been directed by the Marion County Probation Office to the Youth Advocate Program.
In the past two years, the program has worked with 45 teens ages 14-17. Grays said the program taught her son how to use a drill, instead of a gun.
"Many of our kids and children, like to shoot guns and have participated in crimes in the community,” said Gabriel Grady, director of the Youth Advocate Program. “We try to find what the need is. Is it for protection? Is it because you don't feel as though you had anything to do?"
The program also helps teens stay busy by finding employment and learning sustainable skills.
“Every one of them gets up every day with, ‘I might die today’ and they don't even care,” said Grays. “How do we fix that? That's what we have to fix."