Nashville youth advocates push for more programs and funding following latest crime involving teens

Crime Tracker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Four teens are facing robbery charges after police say they ambushed a valet worker and tried to steal a car.

Community leaders say it’s just another example of why there needs to be more juvenile diversion programs for Nashville youth.

“If we don’t invest in our kids, we’re going to lose out on a generation,” said Bishop Marcus Campbell, an anti-violence advocate.

Monday, Metro police say four teenage boys were involved in an assault/robbery of a valet worker at the Hilton Hotel on 4th Avenue South in downtown Nashville.

The teen suspects are two 15-year-olds and two 13-year-olds. Investigators say they punched the victim, knocking him to the ground before taking keys from him. The teens then attempted to take off in a Jeep Cherokee parked nearby, but instead took off on foot.

All four were arrested and charged in Juvenile Court with robbery and attempted vehicle theft.

“Whenever I see stuff like that on the news with these kids, I’m always thinking ‘what can I do better?'” said Campbell.

Bishop Campbell says he’s seen a continuous spike in teens committing violent crimes.

“It’s a struggle and a war going on and our kids are really suffering from the lack of people caring and trying to be there,” Campbell said.

That’s why Campbell has started several juvenile diversion programs, including a free summer camp inside the Church at Mount Carmel on Monroe Street. His plea is to get more people and agencies involved in pulling more kids off the street.

“I was in a gang. I’ve done it,” said Campbell. “I’ve messed up a scholarship at Austin Peay for football. It took my grandmother and other people to care for me enough to not give up on me, and here I am today to be able to help somebody else’s child. And that’s what it’s about….we’ve got to pay it forward.”

Campbell offers free breakfast and lunch, along with extracurricular activities for kids as young as preschool.

“We don’t get any funding,” said Campbell. “So, here we are. We don’t know if we can make it two months with the kids for this summer, but it gives them a place to go and gives the parents a chance to make some money.”

The camp is in need of school supplies, paper products, food and financial donations.

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