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Indianapolis will make preventing teenage violence a top priority in 2024



Indianapolis, Indiana – The City of Indianapolis will make the prevention of adolescent violence a top priority in 2024, following a year in which the IMPD looked into 21 child gun killings and over sixty minors who survived non-fatal gunshot wounds.

”We’re going to have to really look at our youth violence,” said IMPD Chief Randal Taylor. “We’re going to have to look at how many children have access to firearms and how do we deal with that. It’s unacceptable for any parent or anyone who cares about children to know that youth have these weapons and they’re being impacted by violent crime either as victims or as participants.”

Deputy Mayor of Public Health & Safety Lauren Rodriguez said her office is, “going to hire for a prevention manager to oversee specifically youth-involved violence in Indianapolis and how to prevent those shootings, accidental shootings, intentional shootings, access to guns.”

”Those youth are going to become adults,” Rodriguez said. “And they’re gonna play in these statistics later on, and so how can we prevent that from occurring in the future?”

This past weekend, the Moorhead Community Center in Warren Township hosted a role-playing open house as part of the Indy Center for Conflict Resolution’s 2024 effort to spread the word about mediation around the city. In Warren Township schools, ICCR has already started a pilot program on conflict resolution.

”We have to make that a curriculum at our schools,” said ICCR Director Vanessa Romero. “We have to make that a life skill. Going out to their schools, being part of the events that they have, talking to the parents, letting them know that there’s a resource for them as well as well as the students.”

According to Romero, her program is currently one-third of the way toward its objective of educating 99 community mediators who will be stationed in every unique Indianapolis area.

”All of our volunteers are from the neighborhood already,” Romero said. “We have senior citizens that are retired, we have people that have very lived experiences, we have people that are academics, and it really just represents all of the different people in our community.

”We want mediators and the personality that they have, and they should be confident in what they’re doing. And its also gonna allow people to relate to the people that they’re mediating for.”

The mediators at ICCR will also be accessible to neighborhood associations and the IMPD in case they need to step in to prevent a conflict from getting out of hand.

”We hear stories all the time of a gunshot or an assault or something that started from an argument, and we also hear this all the time of conflicts that haven’t escalated yet of issues that have been going on for five, six, 10 years of the same thing with no resolution,” said Romero. ”A lot of times the things we do in community mediation and the conflicts that we see and help resolve are never black and white, there’s tons of gray in between.”

The purpose of ICCR is being expanded in light of the advisory committee that Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine has assembled to discuss teenage violence and how it affects young people’s health.

”I think this year we’re just trying to show how much the city needs to invest in a resource like this that’s going to save them money but also save lives and reduce violence,” said Romero. ”The first thing that I say is, ‘If you don’t think that conflict resolution is an essential life skill, you can’t argue that.’”


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