SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Since the beginning of 2021, five out of nine homicide victims in Syracuse have been under the age of 21.
The two most recent victims are 13-year-old Naj’ee Wright of Syracuse and 15-year old Radames Francisco. Both incidents happened within three days of each other.
NewsChannel 9’s Adrienne Smith sat down with Mary Nelson, a Syracuse woman who has had to bury members of her own family as victims of violence.
“Our victims are dying younger and younger,” — Mary Nelson
The Mary Nelson Youth Center in Syracuse helps kids embrace who they are and shape who they can be, which is why the recent teen violence has such an impact on Nelson.
Our victims are getting younger and younger and the people doing the crimes are younger and younger. As a community, we should be very outraged.Mary Nelson, Syracuse Neighbor and President of Mary Nelson Youth Center
Nelson says this is why now is the time for a call to action, for the community to come together to try and stop the violence.
When asked about what she believes has to change, Nelson said the community must focus in on parenting.
“We want to put the blame on others to take care of something that should be taken care of because we don’t instill value in that child,” Nelson explained. “How are they getting these guns? How do they know so much hate amongst themselves?”
“Nobody has the answers. I don’t care what people say. We don’t have the answers anymore to this violence, but I can say right now, we need to start with these homes,” she said.
Nelson also thinks the pandemic is one of the main reasons why there is such an increase in violent crime.
Many of our kids weren’t going to school, and we know that. School was our resource. They could see things that are happening to that child. You take that out of the equation and that child is basically living on their own.Mary Nelson, Syracuse Neighbor and President of Mary Nelson Youth Center
It isn’t only about the parents and the children. Nelson, community leaders and elected officials agree this plea is for everyone to step up and be a good neighbor.
“The children’s mentality is that is to think the streets love them more than their family,” Nelson said. “That same love that you have for God, have that same love for your brothers and sisters.
Mary Nelson is encouraging any children or parents who may be struggling to call the Youth Center for services and resources. That number is (315) 422-2761.
You can also learn more about the Mary Nelson Youth Center by clicking here.