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Boston Violence Prevention Program Targets 11- To 14-Year-Olds

A day after two Boston teens -- ages 14 and 16 -- were charged with fatally shooting a 16-year-old, Mayor Marty Walsh announced a new initiative to stem youth violence. A memorial to the 16-year-old victim, Jonathan Dos Santos, is seen on the corner of Washington and Fuller streets in Dorchester Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A day after two Boston teens -- ages 14 and 16 -- were charged with fatally shooting a 16-year-old, Mayor Marty Walsh announced a new initiative to stem youth violence. A memorial to the 16-year-old victim, Jonathan Dos Santos, is seen on the corner of Washington and Fuller streets in Dorchester Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
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A day after two Boston teens — ages 14 and 16 — were charged with fatally shooting a 16-year-old, Mayor Marty Walsh joined corporate and civic leaders to announce a new initiative to stem youth violence.

The public-private partnership will target 50 at-risk boys and girls per year — all of ages 11-14 — according to a release from Walsh’s office.

“They are usually too young for summer employment and too old for our summer camps, so it created a bit of a vacuum and that’s why that age group is so crucial for us to get to,” Daniel Mulhern, director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety Initiatives, told Radio Boston Tuesday.

Mulhern said the city hopes to prevent tragedies like the 16-year-old's shooting by getting to kids at a younger age. "That age group is the most vulnerable for some of the negative influences in our neighborhoods," but they are also the most accessible for positive influences, Mulhern said.

Said Walsh in the release: “We must create opportunities to nurture at-risk young people as they enter the critical first years of adolescence.”

The Boston company John Hancock will fund the program.

Walsh announced the initiative a day after Dushawn Taylor-Gennis, 16 of Dorchester, and Raeshawn Moody, 14 of Mattapan, were held without bail in connection with the killing of 16-year-old Jonathan Dos Santos.

Prosecutors Monday said Taylor-Gennis and Moody “trapped” Dos Santos and shot him five times as he rode his bike in Dorchester last week.

The two teens, who were turned in to authorities by their mothers, are being charged as adults.

Emmett Folgert — the executive director of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, which operates a safe haven center for Boston youth ages 11 to 20 — applauded the city's public-private partnership. He said he'd like to see more of that.

"There really isn’t any such thing as an unorganized kid or teenager; the question is, are we going to organize them?" Folgert told Radio Boston.

Kids and teens are willing to join music, arts or sports programs, they just need those opportunities, Folgert added.

With John Hancock, Mayor Walsh also kicked off another program Tuesday: the eighth year of the company’s MLK Summer Jobs Program.

The $1 million program will employ more than 600 Summer Scholars, who will work — paid positions — at more than 70 Boston nonprofits this season, according to the statement from the mayor’s office.

“John Hancock has long believed that it is critically important to our community and our business that young people gain meaningful employment skills at an early age,” company President Craig Bromley said.

Benjamin Swasey Twitter Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.

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Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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