Birmingham Police call on parents to help protect; local organization offering after-school and spring break help

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 12:14 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - After a second teen was killed this week due to gun violence, Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond said that officers are not babysitters and parents need to pay more attention to where their kids are.

“There seems to be a lack of parenting in some of these cases,” Chief Scott Thurmond said. “Not just these last two, but throughout the past several years. Parents have to play a vital role in their children’s lives. They have to be accountable for where their kids are at all times.”

With many parents working long hours, local organizations offer after school care to help keep kids off the streets.

16-year-old Jada Mahogany White, a student at Jackson-Olin High School, was killed around 2:30 a.m. Birmingham Police said she and other teens were out drinking and damaging cars when the shots went off.

“Where were the parents?,” Thurmond said. “Did their parents know where they were? Did their parents know they were consuming alcohol? I don’t think so, and that’s a problem.”

White was the second Jackson-Olin High School Student to die from gun violence this week. There have been nine homicides in Birmingham over the last nine days. There have been 24 criminal homicides so far this year, according to BPD. That is down 11.1% from the 27 homicides this time last year. But, Thurmond said these deaths are senseless.

“Last night’s homicide was 100% avoidable,’’ he said. “Had those children been where they were supposed to be in someone’s home, with someone watching after them, that young lady would still be alive today.”

One of the deadly shootings happened in the middle of the afternoon and community leaders said getting kids involved in out of school activities can help keep them out of trouble later on. It can also be helpful for working parents who can’t be with their kids all day.

“It is less likely for a child to be a victim of - or a perpetrator of - gun violence if they are involved in an after school program,” Leisa Smith, President and CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Central Alabama said. “Being able to have a caring adult, listening to what they are going through in life, being able to give them a snack, and help them out with homework... that is what this is about.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Central Alabama takes kids of all ages after school, during spring break, and the summer. It can help by giving them activities, friends, and positive role models. While they have multiple programs for teens, it’s best when kids are involved from a young age.

“The most important thing when it comes to teenagers is being able to have a place that they feel safe, and a place they have been through at a younger age, and go through year after year,” Smith said. “To be able to know if you start kids off young, give them that place to be where they can continue to be throughout their teenage years, it’s less likely to happen.”

Still accepting new kids, officials with the program said that giving children something to do and look forward to can help keep them safe in the future.

“Those little bitty touch points that you can spend time with young people may just be enough to give them the courage they need to make the right decision or the healthy decision for themselves,” Smith said.

Click here to learn more about their programs for kids and teens.

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