MACON, Ga. — Through a partnership with Mercer's Center for Collaborative Journalism, Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Telegraph, we will seek out many voices over the next year and ask the question: What is the cost of youth violence? The project is named Peacing Together. 

BACKGROUND: Peacing Together: Seeking solutions to youth violence in Central Georgia

Sonya Green and Evey Wilson, with the CCJ, collaborated on this project. 

It's not always easy to find young people to talk about the violence they've seen, or even violence they've participated in.

Girl #1: There are too many young people that are being killed by someone they grew up with

Boy #1: To be honest, before I go to school… I pray because I don’t know if I’m going to walk back out the same door. You have to walk through metal detectors and all that. It’s like prison for kids

Girl #2: Some people growing up, all they see is violence, and they’re more likely to follow that same path because they don’t have anyone to break the chain or set a different tone.

Girl #1: You know your house is supposed to be somewhere you can go for comfort, safety, but you know I don’t have that safety because there’s a lot of violence happening. Even if I have nothing to do with it, I’m in close proximity with it, so I might end up getting hurt because of somebody else’s decisions

Girl #3: My cousin, she was always bullied. She got bullied, like, walking to her front doorstep and she couldn’t handle it anymore and she committed suicide. When that happened, I was looking at the world a bit different.

Boy #1: I personally think that law enforcement just makes the violence worse

Girl #4: I think it also goes into race and gender too. Just because you see somebody that might look suspicious because they’re African-American, or Caucasian, or Muslim…. That doesn’t mean they actually did something

Girl #1: The news is just getting the face value, the surface value of what's actually happening. But if we want to prevent the violence, we should go even further back, like what's happening inside their family, and what kind of influences are they receiving, you know? What are they consuming that's giving them this drive to want to join a gang or want to just commit acts of violence?

Green says one reason she thinks the young people felt open to speak is because their interviews were recorded with audio only.

MORE PEACING TOGETHER

Peacing Together: Macon program helps at-risk adults with resume writing, life skills

Peacing Together: Macon mother urges youth to think twice before choosing violence

We can't do this on our own, we need your help too. We'd like to invite you to take a brief survey on your thoughts on youth violence in your community.