‘Not My Child’: Campaign in St. Petersburg Aims to End Teenage Violence

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – In Pinellas County, schools are closed for the summer and the St. Petersburg community comes together to guide teenagers on the right path during the summer months.

They are preparing to launch a program that will travel to different parts of the city each week until the new school year begins.

According to the Justice Department, crime among young people increases by up to 35 percent during the summer months, but parents are rallying to take a stand.

“In 2015, we had seven young people murdered, leading to the Not My Son campaign, and there is still a level of misery and misdirection for young people,” said Rev. Kenny Irby, community intervention director at St .Petersburg Police Department.

Formerly known as Not My Son, a campaign to support young Africans
For American men, the program was renamed Not My Child to reach all students across St.

Most importantly, the Not My Child campaign aims to promote positive enrichment for youth, spread strong anti-violence messages and promote safe neighborhoods.

“What worries me the most is the peer pressure, the social pressure that just keeps building over the summer,” Shylah Sams said.

Shylah Sams is a mom who makes sure her 13-year-old twins spend their summer days focusing on the future.

“I don’t want to take the wrong path and see other people taking the wrong path,” said Shannyn Sams. “I see what they end up getting themselves into and it’s not pretty to look at. So I want to see myself doing well instead of going down that path.”

A true community initiative, the Not My Child campaign focuses on involving parents, families and their neighbors in the lives of teenagers in St. Petersburg, to encourage them to make positive choices.

“I don’t want to be like everyone else on the street who does bad things and ends up being homeless,” Shaun Sams said. “I don’t want to do any of that.”

The goal is to take the time to have these important and challenging conversations while counting on the support of the community.

“Open communication is always good,” said Shylah Sams. “We usually chat over dinner and talk about events that we see in the community, whether they’re good or bad, and we have an open line of communication.”

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