Deterring Memphis youth from a life of crime is what Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has said is a top priority.
Members of the city’s administration told FOX13 they want to see more youth get involved in the services the city is providing for them.
Director of Youth Services Ike Griffith said his job is to deter as many youth as possible from the violence.
“If structure is not in place, there is not much more we can do outside the home, but provide an opportunity,” Griffith said.
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Griffith told FOX13 the only way to save young kids in Memphis is to push for youth to participate in programs like the Memphis Ambassadors Program which teaches students 14-18 civic engagement and MPLOY, an opportunity for students between 14 and 21 to be employed by the city.
This year, more than 20 homicide suspects have been under the age of 21, while more than 30 victims have been under the age of 21.
Griffith said if those youth would have been involved in the services, it might have saved their lives.
“My main concern now is preparing the child to be productive, and we are going to offer all of those services to the best of our abilities,” Griffith said.
The Memphis Police Department’s COPS program is also a program that has worked in turning youth away from a life of violence.
Griffith said on a yearly basis, more than 1,400 students are serviced by the Memphis Youth Services, but he would like to see that number grow.
Griffith said many students do not take advantage of the opportunities. That is why he is calling on the community to help improve numbers in programs.
“We improve the number by having a coalition of people who want to help, our faith based communities, our businesses, and parents becoming parents again.”
Right now, the city is accepting applications until December 31 from youth to be a part of the MPLOY program.
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