While more than 500 miles away and much larger, Chicago isn't all that different from York City, attendees of a discussion on youth violence say.
After watching "The Interrupters," a documentary about violence in the Windy City, a number of attendees who spoke during the Black Ministers Association of York's 2013 MLK America's Sunday Supper said the film could easily have been shot in York City.
"The epidemic, the disease of violence is the same," said Jonathan Queen, youth pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church.
Held at Lincoln Charter School, the event, which had more than 300 attendees, had a theme of "Where do we go from here?"
Queen and Jamiel Alexander, who is a teacher at Crispus Attucks, led a discussion after viewing the film and having dinner.
New life: "The Interrupters" tells the stories of three people who work to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they were once involved in.
Julio Alicea of York City knows the criminal life first hand.
The now-25-year-old spent three years of his young life behind bars. After his release at age 20, Alicea left the gang life behind and now holds down a job and works to end violence in his community.
"I look at the lifestyle I led, and I don't want that for my children," Alicea said.
Alicea said he grew up without positive male role models in his life, leading him to believe drug dealers were "super stars."
When he was released from prison, he found positive role models in Jerome and Bennie Carter, York City brothers who recently led protests against violence and founded the York County Coalition Against Violence.
Youth, Alicea continued, need positive role models to help keep them from making the mistakes he did.
Without mentors, youth will have nowhere to turn.
"If we don't stop (the violence) now, York will be the same as we saw in the video," said Bennie Carter.
Learned behavior? To spur on discussion, Alexander posed a question, asking if humans are naturally violent or if violence is a learned behavior.
Former York City Police officer Kim Hibner said she witnessed her share of violence and believes it is the result of one's surroundings.
"When our youth are out there, they mimic what they see," she said. "It is a learned behavior."
She, too, said youth and young adults need role models and can learn a lot from Alicea.
York City Councilman Michael Helfrich said he believes children need to be taught not to be violent and shown love and affection.
"Learning not to be violent is what we need," he said.
Don't give up: George Fitch, principal of Lincoln Charter School, told of an encounter he recently had with the parent of former student.
The then young student, he said, was often in trouble at school. But the mother of the now young man told Fitch that her son no longer gets into trouble and is serving in the military in Japan.
The mother praised Fitch for not giving up on her son, and Fitch said the community and society shouldn't give up on troubled youth either.
"The person you see in front of you right now may not be the same person down the line," Fitch said.
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