Program targets youth violence with a graphic look at the consequences

Published: May. 5, 2017 at 1:59 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The University of Nebraska Medical Center has teamed up with Nebraska Medicine to launch the only hospital-based youth violence prevention program in the City of Omaha.

The program is called Dusk to Dawn and its goal is to help change the way at-risk youth think as well as help them to make better decisions.

The program starts in the trauma bay where participants hear the story of Roberto Gonzalez. The 20-year-old was shot once in the chest in January of 2015 at 24th and P streets. He was transported to Nebraska Medicine and died 11 minutes later.

Dr. Charity Evans said the program demonstrates, “The drastic measures we went through to try to save Roberto’s life. We show them the instruments; we show them the trauma bay where this occurred so they get an idea that trauma and violence isn’t exactly what you see on TV. It can be devastating to an individual, a family and a whole community.”

After the youth see how real things get in the trauma center they move into the classroom to talk about emotions, values and decision-making.

Stewart Giddings, Director of You Turn, handles the classroom. He said, “The nature of violence is a learned behavior and in that we can help them in unlearning that.”

A panel of those involved talked about the program, Roberto’s mother, Raquel Salinas, among them. She’s hoping her son’s story will help other youth.

“Didn’t really want to do the program because I knew I would have to relive everything that I went through. Not just me - my family, my daughter. It’s been hard. And the youth need to know, they need to know there are bad people out there. This is a way they can change that. There is a way they can say no to violence.”

Roberto’s mom knows firsthand that better decision-making can save the lives of victims and the lives of everyone involved in risky behavior.

Lt. Ken Kanger, with the Omaha Police Gang Unit, said, “If any one of those kids would have made a different decision the whole outcome could be different. Roberto could be with us, some of the kids who are incarcerated might not be incarcerated. This program is going to reach all those kids maybe the kid that’s apt to pull the trigger.”

The Dusk to Dawn program targets at-risk youth between the ages of 13 and 19. The first class was held last month. Other classes will follow once a month between 6 pm and 8:30.

For more information on the program, call 402-559-9154.