Kids Safe Zone leader reacts to new battle against juvenile crime

Kids Safe Zone leader reacts to new battle against juvenile crime

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Ericka Alston-Buck provides a safe space for kids to hang out, play - and talk about their issues. They have a full-time therapist on-site.

The kids at Kids Safe Zone are often kids we hear about in the news, committing crimes, like recent violence at the Inner Harbor.

“One of them has always gotten in trouble,” said Buck. “Locked up at the subway station for jumping the turnstile. She’s also the one whose dad died - you know, the only support system she had.”

On Thursday, Mayor Catherine Pugh announced new strategies for combatting juvenile crime in the city, including daily meetings between city agencies, raising private funds for her Safe Streets initiative and extending hours at rec centers for youth.

Buck approves of the Mayor's plans to reduce youth crime, but says it does not go far enough.

“I think she’s making great strides in doing something, but the something that we do needs to run deeper than a recreation center or huddles in the morning," said Buck.

Rec centers, she says, are important, but she has questions.

“What happens when those kids are released into the community? Where are they going? Who’s making sure that they get to their destination safely? Who’s making sure they’re not making a beeline to Fells Point or the Inner Harbor?"

She adds that we must look at why kids are avoiding going home.

“The level of parental engagement that I myself deal with is zero to none. These kids are raising themselves," she said.

Buck also commented on the mayor's plan to have city agencies meet daily to discuss crime.

“My only question is, what happens 8 a.m. Monday morning that’s reduced or solved a problem? [Is] Tuesday’s huddle... different? Are we having the same conversation every day?”

The next step for the city, says Buck, is building trust with parents.

More information about Kids Safe Zone is available here.

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