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It Takes a Village: TN Group Looks to End Youth Violence

Nashville agencies recently attended a Cure Violence 101 Workshop, organized by Gideon's Army. (Gideon's Army)
Nashville agencies recently attended a Cure Violence 101 Workshop, organized by Gideon's Army. (Gideon's Army)
July 5, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - More than 20 young people died as a result of violence in Nashville in 2017, and the issue of youth violence is being addressed by a new community group - Gideon's Army.

The organization recently held events in the Nashville area to look at ways communities can address the problem before it escalates.

"There are community-based strategies to address the root cause issues of youth violence," said Rasheedat Fetuga, the group's president and chief executive, "so that we can come together and collaborate from policy perspectives, policing, and other community-based strategies."

Creating youth programs and activities to keep children off the streets and from engaging with risky behavior is one strategy. Others have said eliminating the availability of guns, particularly those obtained illegally, is another way.

Memphis has had a Youth Violence Prevention Plan since 2006, which includes strategies to offer educational and employment opportunities for at-risk youths.

Fetuga said her organization's name, which references a prophet in the Bible, is intentional.

"It just takes a small, committed group of people to make great change," she said. "It doesn't matter how big the mountain or the obstacle, if you have a group of people who are deeply committed, who are strategic and wise, you can overcome these obstacles."

Nashville leaders also are working to address the problem, with the Metro Health Department, Juvenile Justice Center, district attorney's office, mayor's office, church leaders, public defenders and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America all getting involved.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN