PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Violent crimes in the City of Portsmouth are up 56% this year compared to this same time last year.
It's a problem the city has been trying to solve for months now, but there are ways to get through to young people that can't be measured and make a difference.
One-on-one meetings are what Mayor Shannon Glover said will have a lasting, positive impact on teens.
Kayron Cannon, 14, came to the Boys and Girls Club on Portsmouth Boulevard for the first time Monday.
“Thank him for coming, for rushing here for me, because he had a meeting and he came here for me,” said Cannon. “Very thoughtful.”
The idea came from the mayor after Kayron’s aunt Anitra Hampton asked him for help.
“I just want to help you, Kayron,” Glover said to the teen. “I was 14 before too, and I went through some of the same things.”
Hampton turned to the mayor because she feared her nephew would start to head down the wrong path.
“I see a lot in Kayron that I seen in my son,” said Hampton. “I don’t want to see Kayron cut his life short.”
Hampton said her son, Nicholos Suggs, who’s Kayron’s cousin, was murdered at a Portsmouth home on Sept. 30, 2021. He had just turned 17-years-old. Suggs was Hampton’s only child.
She said she’s tired of young people dying from gun violence and doesn’t want her nephew to be next.
“Whatever I have to do, I’ll do it for him,” she said.
Glover said programs at the Boys and Girls Club will help give Kayron an outlet and open his eyes to opportunities that’ll keep him out of trouble.
“It’s that kind of interaction, one-on-one, where we get to touch our young people and our families to give them hope,” he said.
Meantime, Glover said these types of meetings within the community are shown to work.
“I can tell you in terms of human measurement, I’ve had people come up to me and say we’re making a difference,” said Glover.
While Hampton said she’s hopeful the city will start to truly tackle violent crime, showing young people they care is all she can ask for.
“I don’t want to lose Kayron,” she said. “I not going to lose Kayron.”
After spending just a few minutes at the Boys and Girls Club and with the mayor, Kayron said he already wants to come back.