Youth violence hurts communities
September 9th, 2011
Omaha, NE – The University of Nebraska Medical Center hosted its weekly Science Café, with a discussion on youth violence in Omaha this week. A mother, who lost her son in a gang-related shooting, shared her personal story with KVNO News after the event.
In a packed room at the Slowdown in north downtown Omaha, Sherri Brown listened as community groups discussed ways to tackle youth violence. “It’s a battle out here in the streets just like Afghanistan and other places,” she said. “War is going on, and I feel like these children are losing their lives (in) this worldly war.”
Brown’s son was murdered in 1997, in what she believes was a gang-related shooting. Her eyes started to water as she shared the story of a recent encounter with the person responsible for her son’s death.
“He walked up to me, and he says Ms. Brown… And, I looked… He said I just wanted to take this opportunity to talk to you. I didn’t know who he was still until…he said I am so, so sorry,” she recalled. “Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, and the only thing I could ask him was if he could just walk away.”
Dorris Moore, the CEO of the Center for Holistic Development Inc, said when a community, or family, tragically loses loved ones, people may need to seek professional help.
“It means you have a lot of people in the community that are hurting,” Moore said. “I believe that hurt people hurt people. That’s what I see happening a lot with some of the violence that’s going on. People that are hurting look for solutions in things that they know to do, and don’t have a good vehicle to express themselves in other ways. They kind of continue the cycles of hurting one another.”
Moore said the biggest challenge is getting people through the door.
Sherri Brown said while she believes her son’s murder was related to street gangs, the bigger problem is that young men in the community don’t have a sense of belonging. She also said it might be time for sons and fathers to seeking counseling too.
“When men go and have babies and then they don’t stay and take care of their responsibilities,” she said. “The children have to grow up without him, and then there’s chaos.”
Brown said it’s time for the community to stop simply talking about change, and start doing something about it.