Milwaukee’s new anti-violence initiative aims to reward young people for good behavior

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — The city of Milwaukee and several youth organizations are hoping a new initiative will help make summer safer. The aim is to reward young people for good behavior and encourage them to be a role model for their peers.

Young people tell us they see the shootings, violence and reckless driving, and they feel it. They say they want it to stop and they want to lead the way.

The orange “Safer City MKE” wristbands are a reminder not only to show good behavior, but also to connect with other young people who are making the same commitment.

It’s not always easy being a kid in Milwaukee.

Ladora Diggins-Grice, an incoming 9e grader, said, “It’s always gunfire, fighting, violence in general.”

And entering 8e Grader Ayanah Dorsey said: ‘We got used to all the gunfire, the sirens, the cars, the break-ins, people being shot every day.

They say the increase in crime and violence is taking its toll.

Diggins-Grice said, “Any time you want to go to the corner store, there’s always something going on, like gunfire, fighting, violence in general.”

Dorsey said: “More teenagers die every year, more people get hurt every day, people get shot every day.”

The new initiative “Safer City MKE” will help young people to influence their peers. 5,000 bracelets will be distributed this summer.

Renee Logee is the Executive Director of UNCOM.

She said, “We want our young Milwaukeeans to be noticed and rewarded for making positive choices, having fun and being active.”

Mayor Cavalier Johnson says young people who copy negative behavior harm the community.

Diggins-Grice said, “When we see stuff that adults have guns, smoke, all that stuff, we get influenced by that.”

That’s why Johnson said positive reinforcement is so important.

He said, “Making Milwaukee safer is about more than stopping criminals or stopping crime.”

And it’s a citywide effort. MPD Inspector Shannon Seymer-Tabaska said, “You will one day be the future leaders of our community, of our city. And we are here to walk alongside you.”

And MFD Deputy Fire Chief Joshua Parish said: “We also see it as an investment because there are a ton of young people here, and I’m going to be honest because it’s amazing to see you all because I would love to hire you all.”

Young people tell us that they are convinced that this program and others like it will make a difference.

Dorsey said, “A bunch of these kids might be selling drugs or stealing cars and everything. But instead, they’re here and they’re getting help, and they’re working, and they’re staying busy.”

Mayor Johnson says rewarding kids for positive behavior is good not only for them, but for the whole city.

The wristbands will be distributed to youth at various summer programs over the next few weeks.

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