Ceasefire event held at Juvenile Court gives kids a second chance

Ceasefire event held at Juvenile Court gives kids a second chance
Published: Apr. 27, 2016 at 1:50 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2016 at 2:34 AM CDT
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(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis leaders are targeting juvenile gun violence in a new way, hoping it will help stop young people from turning to guns as a solution to solving problems. Tuesday, kids already caught with guns were faced with some tough love at Juvenile Court in a new program.

The Cease Fire Gun Program's goal is to get guns out of the hands of the youth and keep the youth out of jail. It's a new approach by Juvenile Court to touch the lives of kids who may be headed down the wrong path. It's a way to bring kids face to face with the reality of the path they are traveling.

"To get as many weapons off the streets, out of kids hands, as possible," Juvenile Court Manager Martha Rogers said.

The stark reality of gun violence is something Memphis parents know all too well.

Stories of teenagers, such as a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old killed just days apart, are still fresh on the minds of parents, but are also too common in the city.

"Instead of him being at church, he was out joining a gang," Latrina Bledsaw said.

Speakers at the event dug deep into their past experiences, all with an attempt to help the kids understand the consequences ahead of them.

"The ones we run with on the street, they will leave us just as quick as we do what we do," one speaker said.

Teens, each with a pending gun charge, were ordered to attend the class. By completing this class, along with supervised probation, they are given a second chance.

Probation officer Eric Roberts said it is all in an effort to try and save the kids from a dangerous path.

"Trying to save as many of these young people as we possibly can," Roberts said.

The program offers a chance at a clean record and a chance to live a full life.

"They won't ever do it. They won't ever pick it up, and we won't have to read about a 15-year-old being killed, about 17-year-old being killed," Rogers said.

For Rogers and the rest of the workers who put together the program, that is the goal--to stop kids from dying.

The Cease Fire program will run monthly and organizers said their hope is to eventually put the program in schools to reach the kids who have yet to pick up a gun.

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.