Organization working to prevent teen violence, provide safe space | #socialmedia | #children

By Courtney Cole, WBZ-TV

BOSTON – WBZ is taking a deeper dive into attacks that have been carried out by kids and teens at T stops over the last few months. The latest incident happened on Monday, when a Transit police officer was attacked by some teenagers.

WBZ’s Courtney Cole spoke to a local organization that peels back the layers behind the behavior and explains why we need to approach a solution-differently.

When it comes to the violent attacks and acts we’re seeing kids and teens commit in Boston, Abrigal Forrester said the bad behavior itself–is just the tip of the iceberg.

“We have to think about the cause, right? What is the cause, that a young person would just–they would group-up and be at a train station and hurt somebody?” Forrester asked.

Forrester is the Executive Director of The Center for Teen Empowerment.

“We focus on young people, identifying issues that they want to address in the community. And that’s my way of holding a brainstorming session- where our young people get to download what’s going on with your life and the day–today,” said Forrester.

He told Cole that violence is the biggest, recurring issue in these conversations.

“We have influential social media teaching people how to resolve conflict. Conflict resolution now is being seen as – I hurt the person that hurt me–or I blame,” Forrester also explained that teens sometimes resort to violence out of survival and sense of belonging.

Forrester said teens also, sometimes, resort to violence out of survival and seeking out a sense of belonging.

“It’s a warped way of thinking about it, but in some ways and for some young people- that may be a form of releasing negative energy and recreational because of all these negative influences that they’re seeing on social media and etc. We need to be mindful of that and think about how we can re-direct that energy, so it becomes positive outlets of expressing themselves,” said Forrester.

Forrester said getting the guns off the streets is necessary-but the key is to give kids and teens a safe space…to just “be.”

“Be, in a sense of: bringing their whole selves, feeling like they’re safe, feeling like they can unload and unpack what they’re dealing with. And then have someone that they can share those thoughts and feelings with that will help them and say: ‘It’s going to be OK, we can work through it.’ It doesn’t have to result in negative spaces, negative people or negative environments.”

Forrester told Cole helping to prevent young people from making negative choices, like they did at the Forest Hills T-stop on Monday, is something they’ve been doing for 30 years.

But he continued by saying that the mission, to help our young people be the best they can possibly be, is fully achieved when organizations throughout the city are truly working together.

“It’s about partnerships and the collaboration of entities that can deal with the challenges that young people are having at the different phases of their development. Teen empowerment is one piece of that,” said Forrester. 

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