Summer shooting season affects large cities around the country

AMITY PAYE Special to the AmNews. | 7/13/2011, 3:24 p.m.

Leader pointed to idle time and increased gang participation of youth as two of the main issues influencing crime this summer.

"One of the things that the politicians always do when they want to slash something-it's always young people's programs," said Leader. "Not only is their time occupied, but they have a goal. If they have a basketball team, they have a purpose. The team means something to them and that's always something positive."

While many youth programs have been cut throughout the country, many are also springing up. In Boston, the Boston Youth Fund employs hundreds of youth each year and the Boston Youth Zone, a website for teens, promotes safe activities throughout the year. In Chicago, a program called Youth Ready Chicago connects young people with internships, apprenticeships and jobs.

Here in New York City, one program, the Groundswell Community Mural Project, has kids working on a anti-gun mural in Washington Heights. The young crew working at 500 W. 159th St. is using interviews they conducted with victims of gun violence and their families as its inspiration for their art, slated to be finished on July 26.

Programs like New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, among others, also to talk to youth about how to help stop violence in their own communities and how to avoid it themselves.

"When young people don't feel they have a future, they stop understanding the consequences of their actions," said Leader. "I've seen many of these young people and I've arrested many of them. Some of the stereotypes about the kids involved in shootings exist, but, of course, not all young people engage. There is a whole lot of regret on all sides."