Community tries to steer teens from life of crime 

May 09
2010

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BY MICHELLE L. QUINN, POST-TRIBUNE CORRESPONDENT

GARY -- When Michael McGee, head of trauma for The Methodist Hospitals, showed the 100 teens in his charge the picture of what a man looks like with a sexually transmitted infection, they were naturally horrified.

McGee usually uses graphic images to drive his point home when he gives his talks, and Saturday afternoon at the 2010 Youth Violence Prevention Conference at the John Will Boys & Girls Club was no exception. Pictures of shooting victims were also shown with his typical nonchalance.

His message to them, however, was anything but nonchalant: Kids and teens are getting hurt and dying more often than fathomable, and that violence can stop with them. He referenced rapper 50 Cent, who'd been shot nine times before he left his life of dealing and crime, as a prime example.

"When people who do these things live to tell about them, it's just plain luck," McGee said. "When you have that kind of luck, that's the time you need to change your ways."

More people need to get involved with rearing and guiding children, especially in an age where more single women are raising families, according to Denise Dillard, vice president for Governmental and External Affairs for The Methodist Hospitals.

"It's not just that women are leaving abusive situations; a lot of times the women are engaging in illegal activities because they're single -- like dealing drugs to make money to live, for example -- and the kids are seeing this behavior," Dillard said. "They're also carrying around a lot of anger."

Dillard further learned that the problems faced in the urban areas "up north," such as drugs and violence, are just as prevalent south of U.S. 30.

"I asked the gentleman from Newton County why they don't come to Methodist Southlake for treatment, because there's no hospitals down there," she said. "He said the only time they come up north is for the things they shouldn't be doing."

Katherine Hamer, 14, of Cedar Lake, said she found McGee's talk to be the most engaging of the day, but she learned about safe places, of which she'd never heard.

"The doctor was excellent; he had everyone's attention," she said.

"Courtesy of Post-Tribune 2010. Reprinted with permission."

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