Youth speak out at North County summit on violence prevention

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SPANISH LAKE, MO (KPLR)-On Saturday, there was some frank talk from area youth trying to make sure this summer will not be a violent one. The St. Louis County Department of Human Services partnered with the Hazelwood School District, the Spanish Lake Community Association, St. Louis County Police, and Christian Hospital for a youth summit on violence prevention.

The event paired youth with resources and gave young people the opportunity to be heard.

Summer can be a time when spikes in crime are experienced.

Warren Hayden with the St. Louis County Department of Human Services says,  “There’s more free time. There’s more opportunities for kids to get involved in really positive things as well as negative things.  So we want to push the positive.”

Some of the panelists believe police community engagement is making a difference.

Panalist Philip Lawal said, “Some of the police officers around my community come to my community and they play basketball with some of us and then interact with some of us.”

There was a suggestion communities throw more block parties so neighbors get to know neighbors.

Julie Griffith with the Spanish Lake Community Association saidm “I think it`s great. It’s nice to see the community coming together and it certainly is a topic that is on everybody minds.”

Warren Hayden said, “Violence is something we see on the news every night so we don`t want to sit back and be not active in addressing it. So it requires investment in the community and as well as engagement from the community.”

Hayden says the summit is just one part of a much bigger masterplan by St. Louis County calling for an investment in youth.