Dying young: The stories of two teens who died by gunfire sheds grim light on the problem

CINCINNATI – Outside the Evanston Recreation Center on a recent weeknight, as seemingly happy teens cracked jokes and hung out, one brandished a handgun he could barely hold. He wouldn’t give his name or age, but he couldn’t have been more than 16.

His friends didn’t appear shocked he was strapped, even outside a city-owned youth center meant to keep kids out of trouble.

Self-preservation is fueling teens to arm themselves in some of the poorest parts of the city, experts say. And when a 14-year-old boy was arrested in connection with the March killing of a 14-year-old girl in Avondale, much of the attention focused on how the shooting was a mistake. But authorities say that what was no accident, it was the environment that led up to the death.

Tyann Adkins' death shone a spotlight on a troubling trend: Teens are becoming more involved in violence and increasingly are using guns to solve seemingly mild conflicts. Guns are so easy to find and so accepted, police say, that teens are also arming themselves out of fear of violence.

That’s not news to two mothers of Evanston teens fatally shot last year.

The moms said easy access to guns combined with the desire for respect and admiration created a lethal environment for their sons. Add to that a street culture where talking to police officers about virtually anything is deemed “snitching,” and many of the killings go unsolved – even when family and neighbors know who the killers are.

WCPO Insiders can read more on the underlying causes of teen violence, what police and court authorities find to be common trends and just how difficult it is to curb teen violence.

Subscribers may also view an interactive graphic that breaks down youth violence statistics across the city.

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