SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS)- As overall crime in Syracuse decreases, Onondaga County sees a 15% increase in gang violence among children.
Onondaga County Legislator Vernon Williams Jr. who represents district 16, is now creating a plan to help kids resist gang violence and criminal activities. William says many kids are forced to join a gang at a young age, making it more difficult to avoid.
William says he grew up surrounded by the peer pressure to join gangs. Because of the atmosphere he was in and understands why children feel they need to be a part of it.
William believes that the right guidance and teaching could help kids make better decisions.
“You know one of the things is having a mentor,” Williams said. “Mentors that you know care for the kids in the neighborhood, talking to them, counseling them, giving them advice guiding them in the right way.”
William believes that teaching kids at an adolescent age to shy away from criminal actives is key. William says that he is aware that gang related activities are usually hereditary and get passed down from generation. This makes it easy for children.
Although, William says that the current generation is tricky and social media has a big influence on how kids act today. He says children will do anything that is considered cool, even joining a gang.
“You know kids most of them are followers, they’ll follow the crowd, so you need to turn that narrative around and say it’s cool to pick up a book and go to school, you know just chill out with your friends and have fun in the right manner,” Williams said.
Williams says he will continue to do whatever it takes to take back his neighborhood and create a safe environment for those who live in it.