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Youth violence: Children's Wisconsin has seen 70+ gunshot victims so far this year

Milwaukee Police reported that four teens have been killed so far in September alone, and 11 others survived after being shot.
Posted at 5:46 PM, Sep 22, 2022

MILWAUKEE — A 15-year-old boy shot and injured in Milwaukee Wednesday night is part of a larger concern around the number of teenagers involved in shootings in the city.

Milwaukee Police reported that four teens have been killed so far in September alone, and 11 others survived after being shot.

So far this year 23 homicide victims were between the ages of 13 and 19. There have been 118 non-fatal shooting victims in that same age group.

"They shot him down. He fought for his life at the end of the day. 17," Priscilla Vickers said at a vigil on Monday for her nephew Prestin Gill-Pate.

The high school senior who was looking forward to working at Foot Locker was killed in a shooting near 71st and Hampton over the weekend.

There are organized efforts across the community that work with youth to stop this kind of violence.

LaShawndra Vernon is the executive director at Artists Working in Education Inc. The group provides free access to creative services throughout the community often working in schools, libraries, and parks.

They were behind a vibrant mural at 49th and Burleigh that went up over the summer.

"That's a way that you can engage in positive reinforcement for talent instead of the negative reinforcement for bad behavior. So it's really about getting early access to giving them better choices. Giving them restoring their personal identity. So they believe they're just as valuable as anyone else," Vernon said.

Children's Wisconsin's latest stats from July show 71 young people have come to their emergency department after being shot. The average patient age is 14.5. Seven of the 71 patients died.

"It gets tiring of constantly having new cases, however, each new case is an opportunity to make a difference," said Dr. Michael Levas, medical director for Project Ujima at Children's Wisconsin.

Project Ujima has focused on intervening and preventing violence. Their work includes helping families navigate the health system, plus, programming and services that follow them beyond the hospital walls.

Dr. Levas believes their team provides expert care but the work of Project Ujima feels more impactful.

"Once their life is saved, there's so much more that's going to happen to their life. I think that's where Project Ujima steps in and has a huge impact on these kids seeing a future," Dr. Levas said.

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