Groups taking steps to end area violence

Steubenville has faced bursts of violence in the past and community leaders have come forward calling for marches and offering messages aimed at stopping the shootings. Those actions were not always followed through on.

The city again is facing armed thugs, mostly in their teens and 20s, running around firing shots. Four people have been shot to death so far this year, and there was a fatal stabbing.

The father of that stabbing victim, Michael Thomas, has stepped forward and organized United Neighbors Ignites Teens with Education and Drug Awareness by Fostering Education, Respect and Openness with Never Ending Truths, or U.N.I.T.E.D. F.R.O.N.T.

Thomas gathered parents, children and community leaders on Saturday at Murphy Field to open the dialogue with children about the violence and drug use.

This isn’t something that residents can continue to ignore. The community can’t let the message Thomas wants to deliver fizzle out like has happened in the past.

His thoughts are like a big boulder. It will take many people to get the boulder moving. It will be slow at first, but it can be done. It won’t happen overnight, just as the drug dealing and shootings won’t stop tomorrow.

Community leaders need to come together and keep pushing the message.

Parents and grandparents need to get involved. Children need to be part of the solution. Talking will help get that boulder moving.

“We need to say enough is enough. We want more people to step up. There is darkness in the kids that I have never seen before. We as parents need to take back our kids,” Thomas told the several dozen people at the event on Saturday.

Thomas is mourning the death of his son, who was fatally stabbed, but his pain and sense of loss have given him the courage to step forward and wonder how many more sons or daughters have to die as a result of drugs and violence?

Also on Saturday, a program in Weirton delivered a strong message about drug addiction among young people.

Never Alone West Virginia featured two speakers talking about youth, parenting and drug addiction.

Dwayne Woodruff, a cornerback with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1979 to 1990 and current family law judge in Allegheny County, as well as Joey DelSardo, a former University of Pittsburgh wide receiver and recovering drug addict, gave good speeches.

It was the fourth year for the Never Alone West Virginia program.

Unfortunately, turnout for the event was much less than expected. The program also featured live music and food and was a great family event that carried a very important message.

Parents and children need to hear the message about drug addiction.

Just like U.N.I.T.E.D. F.R.O.N.T., the boulder containing the message can’t be moved without community involvement.

The community needs to come together to slowly bring about change with drugs and guns in our neighborhoods on both sides of the river.