GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — It has been a violent year for Triad families, as law enforcement responds to homicides, assaults, and drive-by shootings that have involved teenagers.
In the wake of the Mt. Tabor shooting, law enforcement has begun to stress the importance of families to engaged their young students.
On Thursday, Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson told the parents to reach out if they need help. “If they are struggling help them. If you don’t know how to help them call me, call Sheriff Kimbrough.”
Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill also joined that call and stressed community members need to create me after school and job opportunities. “We need more opportunities for kids after school. We need more boys’ and girls’ clubs, and more people to volunteer their time, so children can have options.”
Russell Brereton and his team with “We Got You,” have also begun to try and fill a need they see in Triad teens. That need revolves around teaching productive and positive conflict resolution.
Brereton started the group a year ago, but his experience in dealing with problems at-risk youths face started when he was growing up.
“I was one of them, I lived on the streets,” Russell explained. “It’s a survival instinct, and a lot of that relates to pride.”
Teens have turned to guns as the first and only solution to their problems.
We Got You have started to speak with teens about ways they can resolve those negative interactions with one another. Most of those involved are between the ages of 12 and 18 years old.
“What we’re talking about is usually off of impulse. You want to give yourself room to think about the situation,” Russell explained.
His wife, Takilla, described some of those conversations they have had with teens already. They’ve told them to, “my first step would be to have a conversation with their teacher. You know, what does your teacher say, or your parent.”
The techniques they have also spoken to teens about is how to have a conversation with an adult, while also avoiding stereotypical concerns teens have, such as “avoiding negative backlash from their classmates.”
“As soon as they tell someone, they feel as if they’re going to be an outcast. I would say find a safe space where you can talk to someone,” Explained Latarsha Miller, Russell’s sister.
The group has also begun to find opportunities and solutions to allow teenagers an outlet to express themselves.
That includes a basketball tournament on September 18, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Greensboro. (To sign up, visit the We Got You Facebook page.)
We Got You is also accepting volunteers and partnerships to create other community connection events.