CINCINNATI — In Winton Terrace, Marcedez Brown has four sons, two daughters and pressure coming in from all sides. She tries to keep her children busy, she said Tuesday.
“If they’re not in activities or doing something with themselves productive, then (they’re) just looking at the men that are already out here showing that influence,” she said. “They’ll try to be like them, want to carry guns and all that. I don’t want that for my boys, so I try to keep them in football and track or whatever they want to be in.”
Preventing youth violence is top-of-mind for her, for many other parents across the city, and for the Rev. Floyd Walker, a pastor who helps run quarterly gun takebacks at his Avondale church.
But he’s worried that this approach isn’t enough after several high-profile shootings involving Cincinnatians under the age of 18.
“Since 2020, I’ve done about 18 funerals, and they’ve mainly been young people,” he said. “There’s still guns on the street, so I think our strategy should be to try to save our younger generation.”
How? He and other pastors want to talk directly to elementary school children about gun violence, gun safety and the dangers of “community guns” — weapons that are stashed in public places for the use of anyone who knows their location.
Walker’s idea is to hold these education sessions at festival-like settings involving sports with pro athletes and conversations with Cincinnati first responders.
“With the right guidance, you can direct them into developing instead of being stunted and feeling that they always have to live on the defense,” he said. “It’s a broad thing, but we have to start somewhere.”
He’s still in the planning phase, but he hopes to get buy-in from Cincinnati Public Schools, too.