Provocative campaign targets youth gun violence

Compiled by Courier staff

Pictured from left to right are Dawn Barnett, Co-Executive Director of Running Rebels, Chris Abele, Milwaukee County Executive, Judge Joe Donald, Presiding Children’s Court Judge, Milwaukee County, and Victor Barnett, Founder and Co-Executive Director of Running Rebels.

One in five gun crimes involve juvenile offenders. So when a juvenile in Milwaukee is charged with possession of a firearm, what happens? If the court orders intervention, they often end up on the doorstep of Running Rebels – a local nonprofit that annually provides more than 2,500 at-risk youth with positive alternatives to violence, gangs and substance abuse.

For over a decade, Running Rebels has partnered with the Juvenile Court system to help youth as young as 12-years-old found with a firearm (or considered a Serious Chronic Offender) through an intensive monitoring program.

At a press conference held on Tuesday Feb. 26, Running Rebels announced the total tax dollars saved because the Running Rebels programs were favored over incarceration. On the same day of the announcement, the organization kicked off a provocative new ad campaign on gun violence prevention, created by SERVE, to help mobilize financial support for the organization’s intervention tactics.

The campaign is called, ‘How to Stop a Speeding Bullet’ and it is directed to the youth and youth gun violence.

“The reality is that 100 percent of the youth in the court-ordered program will return to the community.” says Victor Barnett, founder of Running Rebels, “That is why Running Rebels focuses on the individual – not just the gun. In addition to intensive monitoring, kids find life-long mentors, a safe place to go after school, and positive ways to express themselves through sports or music. They often become a Rebel for life.”

More Facts about Youth and Gun Violence

• According to the Office of Justice, one in five gun crimes involve juvenile offenders (2005).

• Violent crime peaks during the after school hours (3:00-7:00 p.m.). Juveniles are more likely to be both offenders and victims of violent crime during this time frame.

• Half of all juveniles murdered in 2010 were killed with a firearm (likewise, this trend is also true for the time period between 1980 and 2010).

• Studies show that for youth, proven intervention programs pay for themselves many times over.