Car break ins, theft, assaults, and even murders are on the rise across North Carolina. 

The number of North Carolina youth charged with committing violent crimes in 2022 — such as robberies, homicides, and shootings — rose 9% to 990 individuals. Youth violence had been on the decline since the 1980’s, but nationally have seen a resurgence in recent years.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations reported a decrease in the overall rate of statewide violent crimes. However, when you parse their numbers, the murder rate actually skyrocketed 18% and rapes jumped 7%.

Crimes historically isolated to large urban centers are being reported more in quieter and traditionally more safe rural areas. The areas identified as “most dangerous cities” include low population communities — Lumberton, Reidsville, and Whiteville.

As the state benefits from an unprecedented number of economic development wins it’s also struggling with other evolving societal issues.

North Carolina, a state known for its vibrant communities and rich heritage, is unfortunately grappling with a rising tide of gang and gun violence. 

This alarming issue demands immediate attention, as it threatens the safety, well-being, and future prospects of our citizens. To curb this menace, we must adopt a comprehensive approach that encompasses community engagement, policy reforms, and targeted intervention strategies. By joining forces, we can forge a safer and more prosperous future for North Carolina.

To effectively combat gang and gun violence, it is essential to delve into the underlying factors that contribute to its prevalence. Economic disparities, limited educational opportunities, and social exclusion are all catalysts that foster an environment conducive to gang formation. By addressing these root causes, we can chip away at the very foundations of gang activity.

Many parents have abdicated their critical responsibility to nurture socially conscious and productive citizens. This breakdown in parenting is leading to perilous consequences and a hidden tax on all of us. There is an age old saying, “it requires a village to raise a child,” but it also demands active parenting, role modeling, and guidance. Parents cannot expect teachers, neighbors, and coaches to be surrogate leaders — it must start and sustain inside the home.

Communities play a pivotal role in countering gang and gun violence. A united front, comprising law enforcement agencies, schools, families, faith-based organizations, and community leaders, can create a supportive environment that discourages youth from seeking refuge in gangs. Investing in mentorship programs, after-school activities, and job training initiatives will provide viable alternatives and empower young individuals to make positive choices.

Enhancing existing legislation and implementing new policies is critical to eradicating gang and gun violence. Smart and sensible gun control measures, such as comprehensive background checks and red flag laws, can help reduce the availability of weapons in the wrong hands. 

However these measures cannot be effective without adequate resources allocated to law enforcement agencies, allowing them to combat gangs effectively while building trust within communities.

Prevention is undoubtedly crucial, but we must also address those already entrenched in gang activity. Implementing evidence-based intervention strategies, such as focused deterrence programs, can directly engage gang members and offer them pathways out of the cycle of violence. These programs should provide a combination of social services, educational opportunities, and job placement assistance, all with the aim of reintegrating individuals back into society.

Raising public awareness about the consequences and dangers of gang involvement is paramount. Educational campaigns targeting schools, community centers, and online platforms can equip individuals with the knowledge and tools needed to resist the lure of gangs. Additionally, fostering stronger collaboration between schools and law enforcement agencies will help identify at-risk youth early on, enabling timely intervention.

Gang and gun violence pose a significant threat to the well-being of North Carolina’s communities. The fight against this menace demands unity, collaboration, and unwavering determination. By addressing the root causes, engaging communities, implementing effective policies, and investing in targeted intervention strategies, we can make substantial progress in reducing gang and gun violence. Let us come together as North Carolinians, embracing our collective responsibility to create a safer, more secure future for generations to come.