Kids on youth violence in Memphis: It’s a jungle

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Kids are shooting and getting shot, and many think the city is not doing enough to stop it.

Mayor A C Wharton held a private staff meeting Tuesday morning with MPD Director Toney Armstrong to discuss the recent rash of youth violence in the city.

But who better to talk about youth violence than youth? WREG spoke to kids who said they are scared to go out in their own neighborhoods and don't trust police protect them.

They told News Channel 3 many juveniles get guns to protect themselves, because they don't think the police will.

15-year-old Derrion Childs told WREG, "You've got to be safe out here in Frayser. It's dangerous out here. It's a jungle."

Childs is growing up on these streets, even if he doesn't always feel safe doing it.

"I don't think they're doing enough," Childs said of police.

"What do you think they need to be doing?" a WREG reporter asked.

"Be out here trying to put it back together," he said. "Get our society right."

Wharton met with his staff and Armstrong Tuesday. He said they're working to expand youth programs, and police will be assessing where they need more patrols.

Marron Thomas with the Leadership Empowerment Center said it's not enough.

"The police have to be firm, but they have to care about the kids as well," he said. "We don't want incidents that took place in Missouri."

Teens tell WREG gang initiation happens around this time every year, and many feel like it's their only option.

One recent high school graduate, Eddie James, said, "It all comes from the home. Say if your brother's been gang-banging his whole life, you're gonna want to do the same thing he does."

If that's true, Thomas wants to know why police and the city don't prepare for it ahead of time, instead of leaving kids feeling like they have no way out.

"There has to be a plan that's different than the plans that we've had in the past in order to truly, truly impact this city," he said.

Wharton said police presence will increase as early as this weekend. He also announced increased funding for the midnight youth basketball program.


    • Scott

      the kid said it himself, its real out here the gangs inside the family and outside are the ones who get respect not the police….I worked in a prison system in my past life and let me say these gang members in leadership can issue an order and half the crime in Memphis would be off the streets by midnight…basketball isn’t the answer this mayor is clearly lost and we need someone whose willing to go into the hedges and highways…

  • John

    “Kids are shooting and getting shot, and many think the city is not doing enough to stop it.”

    Wow it took as long as the first sentence to place blame on the city for not raising their kids.

  • Joe

    This is a total non-story that’s written to get people riled again.

    Stop expecting city govt to fix our problems when lazy won’t even go volunteer themselves. There are lots of needs to council inner city youth, and lots of organizations need volunteers to help, it shouldn’t be all at the hands of a broke govt coming from people who have no internal knowledge of the scope the mayor’s job actually allows him to be involved.

  • Christine

    The conditions that we are facing today, have been foretold. You see kids killing their parents and parents killing their children. People are gone missing every day. Regardless of person’s race or gender, no one is immune. Young women need to stop going to bars or clubs by themselves. A white woman in Indiana has gone missing after leaving a bar. Living in a all white neighborhood does not mean that you should not be cautious.

    • no justice

      And, the police should raise them also. What a shame. Who put these kids/people to make some of them comments that was made. I bet wreg told them to repeat after me ” its a jungle” one more time now “its a jungle”

  • What tha?

    Hey, I thought this is what a lot of people in Memphis wanted. I remember a time when if a youngster stayed out of trouble, spoke correct English, and was generally a good citizen, he was trying to be a vanilla ice cream cone instead of a chocolate one. I don’t blame the youngsters for any of this. They, like the condition of the City as a whole, are the result of decades of neglect. Sad, but true….

  • Stereotypes in Action

    Midnight basketball. Heaven help us. Why are children up at midnight, let alone playing basketball outside the home? Why not midnight remedial math, midnight arts and crafts? What kind of lunatic came of with this idea? What time is midnight basketball over? 1 a.m., 3 a.m.? Do they think these kids are going to head home unaccompanied after the game? What time do they awaken after this midnight stupidity? Noon? Now their sleeping hours are out of sync during the week. Isnt this program racist? It implies that blacks are only capable of sports and that inner city ghetto crime will be reduced by this stupidity. So now we have a program that reinforces the stereotype that ghetto kids are criminals, stupid, and basketball is what you should strive for in life. Is there a white midnight basketball program? In my opinion even being allowed to play sports should be a reward for being responsible in other areas of your life. Getting decent grades, helping around the home, and staying out of trouble, otherwise no sports. Guess my old fogey ways are just not compatible with these new fangled concepts. I am in my mid 60’s and completely out of touch with todays society but it seems we made a left turn instead of going right somewhere along the way.


    It starts in the home, period. No parenting sets the example for what happens outside the home.
    Parents brought their kids into the world and it’s their responsibility to raise them, not the police or anyone else. Just because something is tolerated at home doesn’t mean it should be tolerated in society.

    • OMG

      No father to be known or around. To mammy it’s just breeding checks. I’m pregnant with food stamp number 10, pay raise time.

    • Tyranny in Action

      In todays world it is the government’s (you and me and our paychecks) responsibility to raise them. They are absolutely unable to care for themselves. How can a 19 year old with 3 children, no education, no husband, ever be capable of raising these children? She will never get a job because there is no way she can pay for a baby sitter. She will never get married because they will cut off the government goodies. She will never get a GED or go to college or trade school due to her situation. She is on the plantation until the end and even then society (you and me and our paychecks) will pay for her burial. She most likely came from the same type of lifestyle that she is now living and odds are her children will end up in the same boat or prison. You said tolerated at home, you should have said this lifestyle should not be tolerated by society (you and me and our paychecks). There is absolutely no rhyme of reason to reward someone for quitting school, having children, and leading a lazy and immoral lifestyle. If you want to see some real looting, rioting, protests and media propaganda just try to change this system of insanity. This is tyranny to confiscate the earnings of a working, law abiding, taxpaying citizen and GIVE it to people living like this.

  • Thomas H. Evans

    Most of the comments on here do not reflect what the article was about. I know some people want to talk about the people pumping babies out over and over, getting food stamps and what else they can get their hands on from the government. “Kids on Youth Violence in Memphis,” what can we do about it? The people in charge of this city are too afraid to really address this issue, why, because the black people who are committing the most crimes are going to cry foul once we start locking them up, yeah, especially the parents. What is the first thing out of the parents mouth when their kid is locked up; they only locking him up because he’s black, never looking at the fact that he or she just robbed or killed somebody. Because you are black does not excuse you from the law. And please stop that “he’s a good boy, never met a stranger, give you the shirt off his back” routine. We need to rid ourselves of these gangs, and in doing so some people will get hurt, hopefully most of the gang members; but our city officials must stop being afraid to face the facts. We need to once again make our schools safe for our kids so that they can get the education they deserve and not be afraid to go to school without a weapon in order to protect themselves. Who the hell let’s their kids go out at 12:00 midnight to play basketball? A C and his gang should be ashamed of themselves for coming up with such. This will stop nothing! Until our Criminal Justice System decides to do their job and put some of these thugs away, then nothing will change. Go ahead and have your meetings, they all end up the same way, with more crime by our teens.

    • no justice

      I was in court the other day. When, the judge advised a 14 year old not to get in any more trouble for having a handgun. And he was released to his mom with a slap on the wrist.

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