WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — One local college conducted a study to identify the leading factors of violence and aggression among youth.

We’ve seen it so many times, minors committing crimes that affect the rest of their lives. One course at Lycoming College studied the root of these behaviors and possible solutions.

Dr. Kerry Richmond teaches a course at Lycoming College called Crime Prevention and Policy. She and students met with local officials and decided to study youth crime in the city.

“We reached out to law enforcement and other criminal justice stakeholders. We looked at community service providers, education, other individuals and agencies in the city that work with youth,” Dr. Richmond said.

Next, they met with about 10 children from the different backgrounds through focus groups and Zoom interviews. COVID limited their methods, but they found several factors linked to aggression.

“A lot of youth are dealing with untreated mental health issues. A lack of mentoring, particularly with adults of color, lack of extracurricular activities in the community that kids wants to be involved in. The lack of trust and disconnect we’re seeing between the community and police. Some solutions are more mentoring programs, identifying youth at risk for mental health and building trust in the community,” Dr. Richmond said.

Mayor Slaughter says the city is working to create more positive activities for the youth.

“It’s vitally important the role that we all play to make sure that our youth have these resources,” mayor Slaughter said.

A student from the course says she wants children to know that violence is never the answer.

“Those are the kids that are going to turn into the adults of tomorrow. And it’s important to start early so that they know there’s more to life than just being in the streets. There’s more to life than just violence. You can do anything you want,” Lycoming College graduate Sydney Purcell said.

Dr. Richmond says their findings were just the tip of the iceberg and they will continue to study youth crime and prevention.