Youth Problems/Call to Action

Meridian, Miss. Outrage continues to be expressed about a drive-by shooting this week at a Meridian apartment complex.

Dozens of people, including children, were outside Western Gardens Apartments when 20 to 30 rounds were fired Tuesday night. One person suffered a non-life threatening wound.

Thankful that the outcome was not worse, some concerned citizens in the area say that the shooting spree is the result of a bigger problem.

Brenda Chaney is one of many residents we talked to who live near where the shooting happened. She says that it was just the symptom of a bigger problem.

"The young people are fed up. They need a job. They want some money. They want better living conditions," Chaney said.

Dr. Ceatrice Kelly is the coordinator for NFusion X, an agency in Meridian that helps transitional aged youth and young adults prepare for the future.

Dr. Kelly says getting a good education, whether it's learning a trade or going the academic route, is key for success.

"You can see the empowerment right away. You can see that they have hope. They set goals and complete those goals," says Kelly. "So, I see a big difference in their attitude and how they see life."

Kelly says there are programs available to assist youth and their parents, but many people in the community are not aware of them. Meanwhile, residents like Chaney insist that more must be done.

"These elected officials in this community, they need to quit playing games," says Chaney. "They need to really be concerned about the needs of the people. There were children out here when this gunfire erupted. It's a respect problem. There's no value, morals or integrity! Where are you, parents? You know at 10 o'clock it says, 'Parents do you know where your children are?' Children, do half of you know where your parents are? Let's get this thing right!"

"A lot of our parents have their backs against the wall," says Kelly. "They don't know what to do, and many moms are doing it alone because a lot of them are single parents. But it takes the entire community; one entity can't do it alone."

Throughout this summer a number of churches, schools, the Meridian/Lauderdale County Public Library and Meridian Art Museum have programs available for children. To find out more about NFusion X, call 601- 693-3806. It's located at 832 Highway 19. North, Suite 510 in College Park Shopping Center.

As for Tuesday night's shooting, at last check an arrest had not been made. Also, police had not released a motive nor any information about the suspects.