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Knox Co. DA reports uptick in youth crime, 10 teens shot and killed in 2021

Out of the nearly 50 homicides reported in 2021, Knoxville Police Department’s Spokesperson Scott Erland told WVLT News that 10 teens were shot and killed.
Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 9:39 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knox County District Attorney Charme Allen reported an uptick in juvenile involvement in criminal activity on Tuesday.

“That criminal activity ranges from serious, violent offenses including homicide, to lesser offenses,” Allen said. “We are also seeing a lot of juveniles with firearms. The more that we can do to try to steer those juveniles in the right direction, the less crime we’ll end up having.”

Out of the nearly 50 homicides reported in 2021, Knoxville Police Department’s Spokesperson Scott Erland told WVLT News, 10 teens were shot and killed.

Community Response

Director Quineka Moten at the YWCA’s Phyllis Wheatley Center, told WVLT News that leaders asked each student whether they’ve lost a loved one to gun violence this year. Not only did they all say yes, but Moten said they also lost a close friend.

“You do see the light leave...you see it get hard for them to believe that there is something out there,” Moten said.

With the help of Donna Mitchell at Covenant Counseling and Consultation Services, LLC., UT’s Division of Diversity and Engagement and Dr. Patricia Bamwine, assistant professor of Social Work, the center is home to a new teen grief support group.

“One of my primary goals as a scholar is to humanize the experience of traumatic loss, specifically during the stage of adolescence,” Bamwine said. “This is a critical period for development and adverse experiences such as homicide survivorship can have a negative impact on perception of self, relationships, health, and life outcomes such as academic and job attainment. Supporting our youth in the aftermath of violence to better cope with the traumatic stress is critical.”

The teens are getting lifelong coping tools and learning how to talk through their emotions. It’s a small intimate group of 10, but Moten said it’s a start to what could be a lifesaving outlet.

“We tell them(students) everyday,’ I just want to see you grow up and be successful.’ They deserve better. Our children deserve better,” Moten said.

UT leaders plan to host quarterly meetings to talk about more community non-violent initiatives come spring 2022.

The grief support group meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Phyllis Wheatley Center.

Those who are interested in getting involved can contact Dr. Bamwine at pbamwine@utk.edu or knoxteengroup21@gmail.com

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