We continue our Project Milwaukee series on youth violence now with a look at kids’ mental health needs. A report by the Alliance for Children and Families says at least 26,000 children in Milwaukee suffer from some type of mental disorder, such as anxiety, behavior problems or depression. Members of the alliance say there’s often a relationship between violent behavior and mental well-being.
Gun violence reached epidemic proportions in Milwaukee in the 1990s. Today, it is endemic --woven into the fabric of everyday life. That's according to researcher and physician Dr. Steven Hargerten of the Medical College of Wisconsin. Hargarten views youth homicide, especially among minority males, as a disease.
We've been exploring the issue of youth violence from a variety of angles for the past week on WUWM. We've met children who've been either victims or perpetrators of violent crimes. Some of the offenders wind up in the court system at an early age.
Barbara Notestein is executive director of Safe & Sound in Milwaukee. Aaron Edwards is one of the group’s outreach workers or “community partners.” They speak with Jane Hampden as part of Project Milwaukee: Youth Violence.
Ron Edari is a professor of sociology and urban studies at UWM. He’s a native of Kenya; he’s lived in Milwaukee since 1972. Edari speaks with Lake Effect’s Dan Harmon about the economic roots of violence in the city.
Last year, Milwaukee’s public schools became a testing ground for a national program designed to reduce school violence. Under the Violence Free Zone Initiative, specially-trained youth mentors from the neighborhood walk the halls of local high schools, breaking up fights and diffusing potentially violent situations. It appears the strategy has been working in the six Milwaukee high schools that have implemented the program.
Milwaukee has problems with youth violence, just as does nearly every other urban community. While that violence impacts vital components of everyday life such as family relationships, the schools and the criminal justice system, it can also impact economic development. Howard Snyder is Executive Director of the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation and spoke to us as part of our series, Project Milwaukee: Youth Violence.
Children in some Milwaukee neighborhoods are likely to become involved in gangs. Teens and even younger kids may sell cocaine, move guns from one location to another, or act as "lookouts" while illegal activities are underway. Officers Louis Kopesky and Daniel Knitter are with the Milwaukee Police Department's 5th District Community Prosecution Unit.
They told Ann-Elise Henzl about the problem during a patrol on the city's near north side.