As reported on tmj4.com
“Our job is to help them explore what their options are.”
MILWAUKEE — Twelve, that’s how many young teens we’ve lost to gun violence in Milwaukee so far this year, according to the Milwaukee Police Department.
This week alone, three teens were killed leaving their families to pick up the pieces.
Running Rebels Co-Executive Director Dawn Barnett works with Milwaukee youth day in and out, teaching them different ways to handle confrontation so they can make the right decision in a high-risk situation.
”That childish joy that was in their eyes was just gone and it was replaced by this sense of shock, disbelief, fear,” Barnett said. “We have young people now who know five, six, seven, 10, of their own peers that have lost their lives.”
Barnett sees that pain in the eyes of the teens that are a part of Running Rebels, an organization that provides mentorship and other services to Milwaukee youth.
Fifteen-year-old William Harrison and 15-year-old Heavion Scott were two of the three teens killed this week.
So far this year, 12 teens have been killed. This time last year it was nine, and a total of 31 teens who ultimately lost their lives in all of 2021.
Watch: Dawn Barnett explain how she walks through the conflict resolution process with the teens who are most in need of help:
Inside the Running Rebels Community Organization Building on West Capitol Drive, young men and women are given tools to survive and walk away from a situation.
“We help them come up with what is called thought busters. It’s something you tell yourself. So when the situation comes, you think about who looks up to,” she said. “Copying ahead for those situations that are yet to come and if they don’t come, great, but if they do come then you’re armed with something.”
“We have to continue to listen, be vigilant about paying attention, understanding that when conflict occurs, we can’t just leave it to young people to figure out,” Barnett said.
Barnett added adults need to step up and help teens explore other options.
Ultimately, she’s hopeful that the violence among the youth will decrease.