Vendetta Against Violence

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By Sam Jones
By Andy Shofstall

JACKSON COUNTY -- The Carbondale Boys and Girls Club is taking a stand against crime in the community.

They're calling it a vendetta against violence. The goal is to stop gangs, shootings, and even bullying. A forum Monday night kicked off the effort.

For the kids that took part, the Boys and Girls Club is a safe place. Malikia Tucker wishes the whole town could be free from the violence and fear she's witnessed on the streets.

"I remember one time I was at a park and there was a shooting. And I just want to know how to be safe around gangs and how to not be approached by one and how to say no," Tucker said. 

The 11-year-old worked with friends like Yasmine Chana at the anti-violence forum Monday night.

"I think we have to change. Less violence and more peace in the world," Chana told News 3.

The forum gave the group a chance to talk to police officers and activists in Carbondale. Program Director Tina Carpenter says these kids know all too well about the crime in their community.

"It just seems to be an increase in violence. We hear about it daily. Our kids come to the club talking about the violence they're witnessing," said Carpenter.

She selected a group of community leaders to listen to the children. The panelists say they'd like to see adults take a more active role in protecting kids.

"If kids can feel safe going to school and they can feel safe coming home that is a start for letting people know who commit these violent acts that the community is not going to allow it," said Susie Toliver.

"We almost allow kids to raise themselves. We allow social media to raise them, and we do really need parents that would step up," said Carbondale police officer Barry Bales.

The group admits there isn't one solution or an easy answer to stopping violence. They say acknowledging the problem was the first step. Next, they'll work on developing an action plan.     

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