KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — There has been a worrying increase in shootings in the past month. Several Knoxville-area organizations say that focusing on teenagers is one solution to decreasing violence.
Since May 5th, the Knoxville Police Department has responded to four fatal shootings and 14 shootings where at least one person was injured. In 2022, there were only two fatal shootings in the same time period.
Denzel Grant, with Turn Up Knox, believes the warmer temperature is one of the reasons we are seeing an uptick.
“Weather starts to get warmer you normally see a high rise in some of the gun violence you see in the community,” Grant said. “With it being May that possibly may be a reason.”
Clayton Wood, the executive director for Thrive, believes children and teenagers not being in school contributes to the increase in gun violence.
“It is absolutely tied in many ways to kids not being in school and an uptick in interactions that cause people to have feuds,” Wood said.
Wood believes teaching young people how to express themselves is something that can help the community be safer in the future.
“Give them an understanding of what happened to them and give them an understanding of why they can express themselves using their words, they can express themselves when they hurt, they can express themselves when they are angry,” Wood said. “There are productive ways to handle those emotions that don’t involve violence.”
Turn Up Knox is focused on our youth as a way to curve the violence in Knoxville.
“Building relationships, but then also creating safe spaces, creating safe spaces physically and mentally that these kids can try to find themselves in more comfortable positions,” Grant said. “Turn Up Knox, we envision Knoxville being safe once our youth is safe.”
Grant believes it is important for young people to stay busy this summer.
“Taking this summer, keeping them as busy or occupied as possible whether that’s just events and cookouts and things for them to do, but then also providing opportunities of employment,” Grant said.
One of those opportunities is Two Bikes. The business offers a development program in which young people learn how to fix bikes and work in a shop. They work with Project GRAD to offer teenagers this opportunity. Overall, the program looks to make participants more well-rounded.
“They just need to like to work with their hands and be interested in learning. so that’s something we can prepare them for,” Sophia Etienne executive director of Two Bikes said. “Our goal is for these kids to go on and get whatever job they want after this and just be prepared and confident to do that.”
Another option is Drums Up Guns Down, an organization centered around teaching kids how to express themselves through music.
“We use drums and dance as a tool for students and young youth in our community to be able to express themselves and heal and deal with past and present traumas,” Obayana Ajanaku with Drums Up Guns Down said.
Drums Up Guns Down is currently offering a 7-week camp that began on June 6. The camp accepts 5 to 18 year old. They are still taking applications and accepting resources.