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Columbia City Council candidates debate solutions for youth violence

In one week, Columbia voters will decide who will hold several Columbia City Council seats, including the mayor position.

A topic candidates have been frequently questioned on is crime involving young people. Teen violence continues to be an ongoing issue after shootings led to several teen deaths last year.

The candidates were asked what they would do about the rising youth violence, how to develop the youth more, and how to deal with the high rate of youth unemployment.

The main focus of answers was geared to creating job opportunities for the youth and how to keep them busy so they wouldn’t get into violent and dangerous situations.

Some candidates suggested that more entry-level jobs be created and possibly bring in a technical college to partner with teens including those who drop out of school.

Many candidates also brought up expanding community groups similar to Silence the Violence and CARE. It was also suggested to bring in meaningful mentors into these teens’ lives.

Some local teens asked how city leaders planned to do follow through on these actions and several candidates discussed allocating more resources to the programs and simply getting involved early in the children’s lives.

Finally leaders said it also comes down to families pushing teens in the right direction and helping parents know how to effectively parent.

The Silence to Violence initiative held the forum; current city leaders credit the group with having a big impact on stopping teen violence.

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