Meridian Star

Local News

April 27, 2014

Minister: Ending youth violence is big puzzle

MERIDIAN —     Meridian minister Stevie Mosley says it will take a big puzzle to solve Meridian's current influx of youth violence.

    "The Boys and Girls Club is a piece of the puzzle. Men For Change is a piece of the puzzle. The church is a piece of the puzzle. Parents are a piece of the puzzle. When all those pieces come together to form one big puzzle, we will have the solution to all the violence among our youth," said Mosley, who is founder of the outreach ministry Men For Change.

    "It's not just one entity. We're all pieces of the puzzle," he said.

    Mosley attributes the increase in violence among the area's youth – including drive-by shootings, murders, home invasions, robberies and thefts – to gangs.

    "It's all coming from retaliation; it's gang related," he said.

    And while he acknowledges that it will take a village to solve the problem, Mosley placed even greater emphasis on the input of parents – particularly, fathers.

    "Fathers being active in their children's lives, especially their sons," he said.

    For those households with absentee fathers, men from the community will have to step up and assume the role.

    "That concept worked when I was growing up, and it can still work today," he said.

    With the school year coming to an end and summer not far behind, Mosley said the violence will continue to escalate if the community does not work together for a solution.

    "I hate to say this, but it's going to be one of the deadliest summers that Meridian has ever known if we don't hurry; the pieces of the puzzle must come together as soon as possible," he said.

    The ministry Men For Change organized in 2007 to make a difference in Meridian, particularly its youth. Consisting of local ministers as well as men from all walks of life, the ministry offers mentorships, is available for public speaking and organizes special events to create dialogue between men and boys.

    One of the group's most visible efforts took place shortly after its inception at the now-defunct Kate Griffin Junior High School. The ministers were a presence on and off campus – greeting the students at the start of the school day with words of encouragement, then returning at the end of the day to tell them goodbye and to accompany some students home.

    Today, Men For Change members can be seen walking students from Carver Middle School across Meridian's main thoroughfare, Eighth Street.

    "We go to the traffic light daily – rain or shine – and walk the kids across the street," Mosley said.

    The ministry also has a visible presence in the halls and classrooms of schools within the Meridian Public School District.

    "We are approved by the Meridian Public School District Board and work in conjunction with the school district to make a difference in the lives of our local youth," he said.

    Men For Change also sponsors a workout session for boys ages 6-10 on Tuesdays, from 6:45 p.m.-7:45 p.m., at Future Fitness, 4521 35th Ave. A $5 donation is required each session.

    "We're trying to turn that generation around before they become gang affiliated," Mosley said. "If we can cut off a generation before the streets get them, then we can turn this train around."

    Men For Change is also available for one-on-one conversations with troubled youth.

    "A lot of mothers and grandmothers call us to talk to their children; we go to their homes and talk to them," Mosley said.

    The ministry encourages young men, as well as their parents, to attend church.

    "This generation is not church-oriented, which compels us to go into the  highways and byways and compel them to come in," Mosley said. "If we do not go and get them, they are not going to come voluntarily."

    For more information about Men For Change and its programs, call the Rev. Stevie Mosley at (601) 678-7516.

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