It is turning out to be a very violent year in Buffalo with 36 homicides recorded so far. As police continue to investigate the numerous shooting and killings, there is also an effort underway to teach kids the warning signs of violent behavior - especially girls.
"Locked Up: Prison Prevention Program" is a collaborative initiative between Women Against Violence Everywhere (WAVE) and The Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo.
Kids from 4th grade through high school take part in the multi-week program that is run at the Boys & Girls Club Masten Club House on Northland Avenue in Buffalo.
While it is open to both boys and girls, the program really focuses on girls and the unique challenges they face when it comes to violence.
Pamela Acker, Masten Club House director, explained that the program works to help girls with their self esteem and decision making when it comes to friends and going to dangerous places (like hotel and house parties).
Acker said girls face a lot of pressure to fit in and be accepted, but that can lead to getting involved with abusive partners and dangerous friends. Sadly, Acker said, many young girls, especially single pregnant girls, come to think of abusive behavior as acceptable and not as a warning sign for future violence.
More girls are also getting involved in violent acts. To try and deter girls from choosing a life of crime, the program takes participants on field trips to see the court system and learn the consequences of violent behavior.
It is a free program and organizers hope more parents will sign their children up. The current session is ending soon but a new session will begin at the beginning of the school year.
More information about the program, and another called "Pretty As a Daisy," is available by contacting ether the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo at (716) 882-2716 or Women Against Violence Everywhere (WAVE) at (716) 848-0515.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his report.