CLEVELAND — With all the violence involving juveniles as both the victims and the suspects, why is it continuing when there are hundreds of programs and organizations in Northeast Ohio aimed at keeping kids out of trouble?
Some in Northeast Ohio, including the head of one non-profit working to keep kids off the streets, believe it is a generational issue, and that parents need to be doing more to foster a healthy environment for our area's youth.
There are 48 Boys & Girls Clubs across Northeast Ohio. The club on Broadway Avenue in Cleveland is the largest with about 130 kids heading there after school each day.
Twelve-year-old RJ is one of them. “To me it’s fun and I feel safe here,” he said.
Joseph Greathouse ll is the director of the Broadway Boys & Girls Club. He is passionate about helping each child.
“It’s a family-oriented building, the culture is loving, they know when they enter, they can let their guard down,” said Greathouse.
But it’s when kids leave that concerns people.
“I’m scared. There is too much killing, too much shooting,” said RJ.
Greathouse said things start in the home.
“It definitely starts with the parents, the household, whoever is in there making sure they are sustaining whatever we are doing on our end,” Greathouse said.
Walter Patton knows all about the violence on Cleveland streets. He was born and raised in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have any positive role models to tell me what to do and not to do,” said Patton.
Patton served time in prison for weapons and drug charges but since getting out more than a decade ago; he is taking steps to make sure kids don’t follow in his footsteps. He started the non-profit Create Art Not Violence to keep kids off the streets. There are hundreds of programs aimed at helping teenagers, but still, violent crime involving young people continues.
“I don’t think it’s a program issue because there are programs doing great work, I think it’s a generational issue," said Patton. “It’s great you can reach the kids, but you can’t reach the kids if you don’t reach the parents. They can spend two hours a day at a program, then for 22 hours go to a toxic environment,” said Patton.
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