Albany addresses concerns about youth violence

April 25, 2019 07:52 PM

ALBANY - One week after NewsChannel 13 first reported an uptick in violence at the Arbor Hill Branch of the Albany Public Library, city leaders came together to hold public forums to help solve the problem.

"We need to make sure that our kids know we are here for them. We want to connect them to things that they're passionate about so that they can set themselves up for the opportunity to succeed," said Mayor Kathy Sheehan.


Mayor Sheehan was joined by the Albany School District's superintendent and other officials as well as community members. The group engaged in discussions about the cause of the violence as well as ways they believe will help youth make better decisions.

"When I come here I actually feel safe. It's a nice place to be. We have fun sometimes and sometimes kids misbehave," said 13-year-old Zakarra Ortiz.

Scott Jarzombek is the executive director for Albany Public Library and says the Arbor Hill Branch has a large turnout of teens in the afternoons. After school on any given day there may be 40 to 60 kids at the library socializing.

On several occasions Jarzombek says they've had to call police to intervene when fights have broken out and also for threats made to library employees.

"I've worked in five to six different libraries in my career. I've yet to work in a library that didn't have criminal activity or fights. It happens when you have a public space," said Jarzombek.

At the first forum held on Thursday, talk centered on ways to connect with kids directly. Some of the proposed solutions included ways to help build relationships, getting more parents involved and adding more diverse activities.

"I'm glad that people are interested in bettering our youth, because they are our future," said Zenovia Bowman, a concerned parent.


Jacquie Slater

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