Salisbury residents march for youth violence prevention

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, April 18, 2023

SALISBURY — Concerned Salisbury residents took to the street on Saturday to march for youth violence prevention. 

Marchers began at Essie Academy on West Innes Street and culminated on the steps of the Rowan County Courthouse. 

The Salisbury Police Department’s victim advocate, Dr. Alberta McLaughlin, helped to organize the march.

“Youth violence is often connected to other forms of violence, including child abuse and neglect, domestic/sexual violence, bullying, gang violence, human trafficking, gun/knife violence and suicide,” McLaughlin said. “The activities planned with community partners highlighted prevention strategies that are available in Salisbury.”

One of those resources is the Family Crisis Council for Rowan County. The organization’s executive director, Christina Rary, shed some light on the complexities of the issue. 

“One in three children, who grow up in a home where they experience domestic violence, will experience it again as an adult,” Rary said. “You can look at that in two ways; one perpetuates the cycle, two break it.” 

Rary’s organization aims to connect community members with available resources, like outside counseling and medical care. It was one of many groups participating in the march, which also included the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP, Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church, Project Light, Delta Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Terrie Hess Child Advocacy Center, Essie Mae Academy, Boots on the Ground, Man-Up, One Love and Rowan County Department of Social Services.

According to, the United States website that compiles youth violence statistics, one in five high school students has reported being bullied on school property in the past year. 

Homicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 10-24. Every day, approximately 12 young people are victims of homicide, and almost 1,400 are treated in emergency departments for nonfatal assault-related injuries.

When violence does occur, the immediate victim is hardly the only one impacted, as Xavier Brown, a sophomore at Salisbury High School, pointed out. 

“I think about how a shooting can change a family,” Brown said. “Losing a loved one impacts everyone in their family, but it really impacts the African American community.”

In Brown’s eyes, stopping the violence doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution, but it does start the same way by “showing up and supporting efforts in the community.”

Brown was among the marchers on Saturday and said that he wanted to participate to show support for his church, Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church.

Joining Brown and other marchers was Jalen Robinson, a junior business administration major at Livingstone College, who served as the keynote speaker upon arrival at the courthouse.  

“We have to make sure (the youth) has a safe space in the community, where they can come and get things off their minds and where they feel comfortable speaking to mentors and people like me who want to give back and help out even in a community that I wasn’t raised in,” Robinson said. 

As Robison mentioned, Black youth and young adults are at higher risk for the most physically harmful forms of violence, such as homicides, fights with injuries and aggravated assaults, compared with white youth and young adults. 

“We have to connect with our youth and have these talk sessions and bonding sessions, not only to get to know them more but also talk to them about things like (violence),” Robinson said. “If things like that are not brought up around our youth, it can lead to them going into a mental depression stage where they don’t want to talk to anybody. You don’t want that leading into dropping out of school or suicidal thoughts.”

Robinson encouraged parents to continue sitting down and talking with their kids.

“We have to protect these youth at all costs and make sure they’re happy because they’re our future leaders and will take control and action one day,” Robinson said. “If you see something, say something, don’t be scared to talk to city leaders and always put God first.”