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Lowcountry program encourages young people to rise above violence




CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) – Several dozen people gathered on Tuesday to discuss a new program designed to help reduce youth violence.

The Charleston County Youth Advocacy Program identifies how this type of abuse happens and how to prevent it from happening again.

“It hurts,” said Shantone Curry, violence switcher for the Charleston County Youth Advocacy Program. “I can’t give you any other answer than that. It hurts.”

That’s what Curry says when he hears about minors involved in violent crimes. Curry grew up on the drafts, started stealing cars at 19, and went to prison for 15 years for armed robbery.

He was asked why people like him get involved in these situations.

“The feeling of hopelessness that there’s no one who cares that they don’t have anywhere to go,” Curry said. “They have nothing to do, and they don’t have anyone who cares enough to give them something to do.”

Just last week, North Charleston Police Chief Burgess said people needed to change to make the streets safer, after a shooting occurred off Barnwell Avenue.

Charleston Police Department Lt. Corey Taylor says he thinks at least 50% of violent crime in the city involves a minor.

Christa Green, director of MUSC’s Turning the Tide Violence Intervention program, works closely with those affected by gun violence.

“Getting shot is a terrifying and unfortunate incident that happens in someone’s life,” Green said. “And aside from the physical, there are a lot of mental, emotional and psychosocial issues that we need to address.”

The Charleston County Youth Advocacy Program partners with MUSC to address these kinds of issues. Green says she sees children as young as ten or 11, all the way up to people in their thirties seeking treatment.

Curry says part of the goal of the youth advocacy program is to identify where the trauma is coming from to better intervene and prevent violent crimes from happening again.

“Parenthood is passed on by how they were parented,” Curry said. “And, you know, the violence around the neighborhoods they live in… You make a child grow into an adult before the age. All of that plays into what we’re talking about.

Green says most people in their late teens and early twenties are most at risk of gun violence.

“I think what’s really the most profound is that these are kids who just want to go to school,” Green said. “They just want to play basketball in their neighborhood. They just want to walk to their friend’s house. But not all children have the same opportunities and experiences as others. And so we’re really trying to focus on providing the resources and reinvesting in the communities that haven’t been invested in for a long time.

For more information on how to get involved with the Youth Advocacy Program, click here.