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'These babies are dying': Toledo mother and son share fears about city's youth violence

As Toledo's violence involving youth continues to rise, a mother and her son share how it has impacted them.

TOLEDO, Ohio — As the second week of February continues, teen deaths make up more than half of Toledo's homicides in 2023. There have been five juvenile homicides since Dec. 5, 2022.

That doesn't include the three teens who have been shot and hospitalized in the last week.

Jeremiah Porchia, 17, said seeing other teenagers get hurt or killed has forced him to make some changes. He said they need something to keep them busy and people around to make them feel safe.

"It's very sad," he said. "These people need mentors in their lives to be able to capitalize off of."

For Porchia, that mentor is Shawn Mahone Sr., a community leader who runs a tough love program aimed at helping troubled young people called Young Men and Women for Change.

Recent violence against teens drives home Mahone's repeated calls for change.

"It's frustrating because what we have to do is address the elephant in the room," he said. "We have to look at the number of parents in our community that's literally crying out for help."

Those parents include Jeremiah's mother, Danetta Walker.

"These babies are dying," Walker said. "The youth are killing each other. It's just like, what's happening? It wasn't that bad before, but now it's like every single day almost."

She fears waking up and and seeing her son in that position.

Porchia admits he's gotten into some trouble by hanging out with people who have a different background and home life than him.

He's been expelled from TPS and admits he's made mistakes, but he's looking to change that and help others do the same.

"They aren't necessarily the best people, but I feel like they can change if they have that one person in their life that they see doing bigger things like wanting to be an entrepreneur and other things," Porchia said.

Walker said parents need to step in and become more involved, too.

"It's not just the kids," she said." We oftentimes blame the kids and say they're bad kids. We just need to be adults to show them how to be. A lot of times they just don't know or they don't have somebody they can talk to."

Mahone fears kids will continue to die unless strides are made to reduce crimes involving youths.

"Our youth feel that they can do whatever they want to do," Mahone said.
"They think it's ok to carry guns, they think it's ok to go out here and commit crimes and think they're not going to be punished for it."

Porchia is committed to making better choices in his life as part of Mahone's tough love program and is looking at how to get into carpentry school.

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