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How can adults stop teen violence before it happens?

WCPo smale crime scene.jpeg
Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 22:01:38-04

CINCINNATI — The July 4 shooting at Smale Riverfront Park that left two teenagers dead and three others wounded hit close to home for Dohn Community High School.

One of the young men killed, 19-year-old Dexter Wright Jr., graduated from Dohn just a few years ago. Police believe he and 16-year-old Milo Watson had an argument at the park that turned into a shooting.

"It's a sad result. I mean, we're walking around trying to pick up the pieces,” said superintendent Ramone Davenport. “I feel bad and I pray for the family, of course. Such a delightful kid. I remember him here at the school. And for things like that to happen, it really shines a light on how far we have to still come with us. The teenagers in this city, I mean we got a lot of work to do. "

Davenport and other teachers, coaches and mentors are looking for solutions to teen violence that could stop something like this from happening again. Dohn Community High School is organizing a week-long event to show teens they’re cared for.

"We do it for teacher appreciation week. It's the same concept,” Davenport said. “So why not devote a whole week to teens? Not just at-risk teens, but teens everywhere, just to show them that businesses here in Cincinnati and us as a community care about them, and they can come to us and they can tell us anything, and hopefully as adults we can understand some of the struggles that they're going through."

Withrow High School teacher and varsity baseball coach Bobby Calder said sports can also be a positive influence.

“I think (it helps) just being on that team and having those coaches there for leadership and mentorship, and if you ever need help in any capacity, whether it's sports-related, school-related, anything personal,” Calder said. “I think it provides just a great opportunity for those kids to have another voice of positivity and just encourage them to continue doing the right thing and being at the right place at the right time. Doing the right thing is something that we preach.

Chief Eliot Isaac emphasized that this kind of adult and parent involvement, not just more police presence, is the solution to getting teen violence under control.

"I don't believe that that is the answer to what occurred last night,” Isaac said Monday. “I think we need responsible adults to be responsible for juveniles. And police are not the sole responsibility for this. I think we all need to be partners in this effort."