As city leaders work to tackle juvenile violence, teens are speaking out

The number of shootings involving kids is up more than 30% since 2022, weighing heavily on teens in the Charlotte area.

It’s a hard pill to swallow but an ugly truth that Bobby Forrest has no choice but to accept. Forrest lost his friend Avyon Thomas to gun violence, killing a part of his community.

“He’s dead and I’m going to his funeral,” Forrest said. “That is insane.”

Forrest said Thomas was very kind and was a good friend. And while this tragedy hit a lot closer to home, it’s not his first friend or peer to die at the hands of a gun.

“Gun violence was a big issue this winter break. A total of three kids died in less than a month,” Forrest said.

Forrest said it’s baffling to see kids his age die back to back.

New data from CMPD showcases the uptick in juvenile violence. Numbers show that 108 kids were involved in shootings in 2023, up 33% from 2022.

“I’ll be lying if I say that doesn’t scare me a little,” Forrest said. “I’m scared of getting shot and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.”

Forrest said getting shot is something you would never think would happen to you until it does. Now he’s trying to find solutions to teen violence, starting in his community.

Forrest said he’s looking forward to sitting down with city leaders to break the vicious cycle. But for now, he’s preparing to release a balloon in the sky in memory of another life stolen by a bullet.

“This is a community-based problem,” Forrest said. “Just put the guns down.”

Read the original at WCNC Charlotte.

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