Philly officials seeking solution to deadly violence among teens

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Philadelphia Councilman Kenyatta Johnson says the level of violence

Philadelphia Councilman Kenyatta Johnson says the level of violence

Philadelphia City Council began discussing ways to reduce youth violence during a hearing Monday. The level of violence, number of shootings, and loss of life in the city add up to a state of emergency, said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.

A recent survey of young people shows that firearms are too easy to acquire, said Dr. Joel Fein of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“The majority of them said it would be quite easy to obtain a firearm with one youth stating I have friends that have access to guns and I would just call them,” Fein said.

Without extended social service programs, enforcement won’t stop the youth violence problem, said Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

“The next step has to be something to get them to want to be out of that life,” he said Monday. “And if you have something that is only going to be a couple of weeks, that’s not going to be enough.”

Dorothy Johnson Speight, who leads the group Mothers In Charge, said losing a loved one to violence has motivated her to help find solutions — including anger management.

“My son was shot to death over a parking space by someone who didn’t know him but by someone who was angry and out of control, who shot and killed someone else five months before he killed Kalique,” she testified. “So we understand how important this anger management thing is for young people.”

Another mother told Council members she is taking matters into her own hands, offering young people everything from a new interview shirt to food to keep them away from guns and drugs. 

More discussions are planned as part of upcoming budget hearings.

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