The answer to a record number of crimes and deaths?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – The escalation in the rate of homicides and non-fatal shootings in 2020 in Louisville is due to young adults and adolescents lacking the ability or knowledge to handle disputes, LMPD Homicide Unit Lt. Donny Burbrink said.

Conflicts can be faced at all ages and at all stages of life. Knowing how to manage it can save lives.

“As a culture, we are a violent society,” says Carrie Christensen, project manager for the Louisville Peace Education Program. “Everyone’s stress level is so high. How can we take care of each other instead of attacking each other?

The Peace Education Program has been teaching conflict resolution to those in need for over 30 years. Christensen believes thousands of people in Louisville have been able to reject violence and choose peaceful ways to solve their problems

The Louisville Police Department is reducing its specialized units, WAVE 3 News has learned. The move is part of an effort to patrol more officers, LMPD spokesman Jesse Halladay said.

“Conflict resolution is having the flexibility to react to a conflict,” she says.

Deborah Barnes-Byers, Peace Education’s Pivot to Peace Project Manager, agrees with Christensen. However, she does not blame the young people alone.

“Violence is learned behavior according to the CDC, so I feel like violence can be unlearned,” says Barnes-Byers. “We have to walk as much as talk. We cannot guide young people and then act like crazy ourselves.

In Pivot to Peace, Barnes-Byers helps victims of stabbings and shootings identify and address the factors in their lives that put them at risk for both physical and mental violence, but they don’t do it alone. . Each victim receives help from social workers and other community resources.

“They don’t have a ton of role models for how to handle things peacefully,” adds Christensen.

COVID-19 and social unrest have not been included in Louisville’s high crime and death rate, but Christensen says it all figures in what she calls the “diseases of despair.”

A teenager died after being shot on Sunday night on Vetter Avenue.
A teenager died after being shot on Sunday night on Vetter Avenue.(News WAVE 3)

“Where it’s like you’re hopeless and don’t think your life matters and your community has events that make you feel like your life doesn’t matter,” she says.

Gulfport School District is considering revisiting a long-standing lunch policy, after a ...
The Gulfport School District is considering revising a long-standing lunch policy, after a parent said her child was denied a meal because she had no money for lunch.(Photo source: WLOX)

Young people have also been denied easy access to meals if their families are food insecure and mental health services in schools.

“Our schools are islands of safety for these children and the doors have not been opened since March 13,” explains Christensen.

Christensen and Barnes-Byers believe that the community must work together as a city to intentionally learn how to help each other for peace and progress.

“I think we need a lot more conflict resolution in this city,” says Christensen. “I think young people need it. I think our adults need it. I think our police need it.

The peace education program offers young people many opportunities to learn to resolve conflicts and work together.

“Come in and say we can talk about it,” says Barnes-Byers.

Christensen agrees, saying anyone can communicate, listen and consider options without weapons or harsh words.

“We all have to work on it together,” says Christensen. “I care what you need in this conflict, but I also want to know what you need in this conflict.”

The Peace Education Program is currently working with 88 schools and 67 community sites in its network. During the pandemic, they are doing their best to raise awareness and fundraise to continue their programs virtually and in smaller groups.

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

About Michael C. Lovelace

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