Community groups are trying to end violence in Omaha, especially among youth

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – In the past seven days, Omaha has seen four murders. A common theme in multiple shootouts: juvenile suspects or victims.

For the past five years, YouTurn has worked to prevent violence in the Omaha community.

Overnight, Omaha saw its eighth shooting in just six days and its fourth murder in a week.

“Every life that is lost is tragic because that means that there is a person who has no way of moving forward in their life to realize their full potential,” said Teresa Negron, Executive Director of YouTurn.

Omaha Police say a number of the shootings we see were gang related. According to the OPD, the focus is now on keeping guns out of the hands of teenagers. This includes the help of community groups like YouTurn.

But, according to Executive Director Teresa Negron, COVID-19 has prevented them from doing much of the practical work they are used to.

“We weren’t able to do much of the programming that we would do within the school system. In this way, we can continue to communicate with the participants in our program by telephone and in some cases virtually. “

Adolescents and young adults who take part in YouTurn do so voluntarily. This means that reaching those children who don’t want help can get out of a violent lifestyle can be difficult. This makes public relations work, as is customary in schools, all the more important.

“When something happens in the community, we get in touch with people we’ve worked with to find out what’s going on, what started the incident, and then we work to resolve that conflict,” says Negron.

YouTurn executives say if the community sees more shootouts, it doesn’t mean the community programs aren’t working.

“Moving the needle even a little is a success. So if there is a shoot every time, it doesn’t mean that any program out there is unsuccessful. So we will keep fighting. “

The Omaha police still need your help clearing up some of the recent shootings. Anyone with information should call CrimeStoppers; where tips can also be reported anonymously.

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