U.S. House of Representatives

On May 27, our community suffered a great loss due to the passing of recent Carter High School graduate Ledajrick Cox, or “LD” as his many friends affectionately referred to him. LD was an accomplished athlete with a bright future – except his life was cut short when he was shot and killed by two male teenagers for protecting a female friend in front of an Irving convenience store. It is extremely disheartening that our city has once again lost a promising young man due to another senseless act of violence. Tragedies such as these remind us of the importance of nurturing our youth and providing them with constructive outlets.

Multiple studies have been conducted to explore the relationship between gun violence and poverty. The U.S. stands out among other countries, as the inequality that persists in our nation is indicative of the violence that is rampant in select communities. Countries that are most equal have the lowest rate of gun related violence. And there is a strong relationship between gun related violence and income inequality, evidenced by the gun issues that are seen in our nation. While we are taking steps to ensure safety in our community, we must also work to decrease the income inequality in our communities as well.

Summer break is a time that many youths look forward to, as it affords them the freedom of no school, free time and warmer weather. However, there is a consequence to having such copious amounts of free time. Each year after schools release their students for summer break, there is a predictable increase in youth-related crimes. This spike can often be attributed to a lack of constructive outlets for our youth, through summer activities, programs or otherwise. That is why I have become a firm believer in devoting the necessary resources to provide our youth with dedicated programs to keep them engaged throughout each summer. Last month, I hosted my annual Youth Crime Prevention Summit, where I encouraged the youth of Dallas to utilize the summer break to cultivate leadership skills, make informed decisions, and surround themselves with positive mentors and peers.

Those who tend to participate in constructive activities tend to have less time on their hands which could lead to a situation where they find themselves in a situation that they will later regret or in a moment that can lead them down the wrong path. As members of the 30th District who live in the same community, we should heed to the old adage “it takes a village” and provide recommendations to our family and friends who are parents so that their teenage sons and daughters can continue to make safe decisions and remain actively involved this summer.

The city of Dallas provides a variety of activities for children and teenagers. The city offers an array of summer camps throughout the city in various price ranges, which is sure to please each child: the promising engineer, budding performer or dedicated athlete. Venues such as Klyde Warren Park also provide an assortment of things to do for all ages. Recreation centers and churches in Dallas are also a great resource for summer activities. The Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center offers summer camps and exercise classes, while churches throughout the community will offer tutoring services, summer activities and week-long Vacation Bible Schools. By committing to being productive and active, we can ensure the safety of all Dallas citizens.

The summer months are full of opportunity and potential for growth, but it is up to each individual to seize the moment and lead through example. Every morning, one must wake up committed to making the right decisions and to lead constructive lives. Each child, teenager and adult must continue to surround themselves with positive role models and equip themselves with the tools to make sound decisions while channeling positive energy to do good for our community. By taking these steps, I am confident that Dallas will see a decrease in youth related violence, and together, we can all take positive steps to improve the communities we live in.

U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.

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