Prison Radio
Kenjuan Congo Jr.

My inmate number is ND7568. I’m calling from SCI Chester. The title of this piece is “The ER Foundation: Youth Violence.” This is Kenjuan Congo, Jr. from the belly of the beast.

I work with the ER foundation. I’m their social justice analyst and youth outreach partner. Lately, we’ve been talking about youth violence. I want to bring that conversation to y’all.

You see, a lot of times when we’re talking about youth violence, we just look at the effect. We just look at the effect and not the cause. When we just look at the effect, we limit our response to a reactionary response. If we have a young person who’s being violent, we say, “You know what, I’m gonna mentor them, but you know what, we need to lock them up!” However the response, whether negative or positive, is a reactive response is reactionary. Once we remove this one individual, this one youth, and that condition is still in place, that problem continues to reproduce itself.

So say like, if the youth is violent because of untreated trauma, by removing that one person and leaving that condition of untreated trauma in place, then the next individual that deals with this untreated trauma manifests it in a violent manner. So now when others come about, the violence continues. Or if it’s poverty, this young person is committing violence because they’re impoverished, so once we remove the one individual, yet the next one is still dealing with poverty, they manifest itself in a negative behavior.

So if we react and leave the cause in place, then the cycle continues. The problem is we just look at the effect and not the cause. It’s really a problem: we need not to just react, we need to be proactive. We need to look at the cause as well as the effect. And the only way to treat the cause is through listening. A lot of times, its older people, we think we got all the solutions, all the answers. Sometimes we just need to shut our mouth and listen.

It’s hard to listen to sometimes, and by listening, you can evaluate the cause and treat it. So we need to evaluate the cause and effect and treat the cause, and we do this through listening, not having a reactionary response, but being proactive by looking at the cause as well. Youth violence is a serious issue.

I work with the ER Foundation, and I work with Prison Radio. Continue to support these two great organizations, ER Foundation and Prison Radio. This is Kenjuan Congo, Jr. from the belly of the beast. Thank y’all. All power to the people.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.