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'It's neutral to us:' Children say they're used to friends dying from Jacksonville violence

In 2020 more than 30 people killed were teens. That's an entire classroom full.

Some local children have a disturbing outlook on violence in Jacksonville; they say they're used to it.

It may be a new year, but the number of homicides in the city is on pace with last year's, with four people killed so far in 2021. 

In 2020, we saw a homicide every other day.

Some of the people left seeing the real impacts are children.

"I was tired of seeing all these kids getting killed," said Princess Lane.

Lane is 10 years old. She says she knows seven people who've been killed.

"I'm getting used to it 'cause it happens a lot in Jacksonville," Lane said. "All of these kids are getting killed for no reason. I think it's not necessary. I think we should all come together."

Out of the 177 homicides last year, most of the people killed were in their 20's, which is more than 60 people. More than 30 people killed were teens. That's an entire classroom full.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams says a small number of people are behind most of the violence, specifically gangs and other groups.

"We've been looking at it for so long as a child and then it's like when somebody dies it's just like whatever and it's neutral to us," said Alexis Moore, 18. "We don't have no types of feelings because we already grew up with people killing each other, police killing us."

This is the talk that most concerned Gale Williams, who works with Moore, and inspired them to bring people together to talk with First Coast News about action.

Princess is in the group PVO2, Positive Vibes Only, which focuses on showing children how to earn money through events like car washes and partnering with businesses. They're just one of multiple youth mentor groups in Jacksonville. Princess hopes more individuals get involved.

"We get out here and stop all this gang war, gun violence, shooting up our young kids and what not and leading them in a better direction," said Ronald Brice, founder of PVO2.

"We're getting different kids from different neighborhoods and show them a better life," Lane said. "We show them how to get money the good way, the right way. Be safe out there and don't do nothing that's gonna get you in trouble."

After a 14-year old boy was charged with murder just months ago, those working with the city told First Coast News that mentorship initiatives for school-age children were in the works.

In October, the sheriff announced the implementation of a gun bounty program that will pay $1,000 to anyone who turns in a person who is carrying a gun illegally.  

Anyone with information about a crime can anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

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