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Kids turn criminal when others stop caring

As overall crime increases in Baltimore, so have violent crimes by juveniles. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)

In a recent commentary in The Baltimore Sun (“Baltimore can’t jail its way out of juvenile crime crisis,” Nov. 14), the question that is posed is "How did 13-, 14-, 15-year old kids become hardened criminals with no fear of consequences or even fear of harm to themselves?" In my limited experience dealing with issues involving children in this city, the answer is simple: "lack of concern.” These young people fend for themselves. These young people are out most of the day with nothing to do and form alliances with others who are of their own age and often get into trouble. No child wants to wake up in a home where there is nothing to eat and the family unit doesn't exist and wander throughout the day in search of something, anything to change their lives.

We recognized this about eight years ago — a little late, I know — and, fortunately, we are now meeting a change in our government officials who want to bring about change. We met with City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young this week to show him how we as a city could create housing for the homeless while using recycled containers that are currently sitting at our port. He loved the idea, and we are planning to have other meetings with the city to see how this can be done. A 40-foot container can be refurbished and put where many of the buildings throughout the city are being demolished and can be designed in such a manner as to create the illusion of the same style as the existing structures in the city. Last week, we met with Terry Hickey, director of the mayor's office of human services, and Karen Stokes, director of government relations, and they both agreed that our backpack program to feed homeless children and their families over the weekend was a way to help these families. We, and they, care.

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I met Mayor Catherine Pugh a few years ago, and she is working tirelessly to attempt to resolve so many of the homeless and the poor issues, and with a team like this we care (and I mean all of us care) and are now working as a unit to make sure that our children are fed and that suitable housing can be made available. We care about these young folks because we, in our group of volunteers are all parents, have raised our children and want to ensure that this newer generation get the same chances that we provided to our children. So all is not bleak as we now have a government in place that truly cares for families and the homeless of this city. Rejoice and know that change is coming because we care and we care a lot.

Christian H. Wilson, Baltimore

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The writer is executive director of Heart's Place Services, Inc.

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