Safe and Sound Hillsborough works with children to provide them with the resources they need, rather than resorting to gun violence.
TAMPA, Florida. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teenagers in the country.
In the Tampa Bay area, Safe and Sound Hillsborough is working hard to address this issue by inspiring kids to make a difference one at a time.
Freddie Barton is the CEO of Safe and Sound Hillsborough.
“We are looking for people who do not care about our children. We work with those who commit minor offenses, down to these children who have problems with these weapons and these weapons,” Barton said. “We have a lot of work. We need to get to these kids as soon as possible. Every day at around 3:30 pm we receive a detention report.”
RELATED: These two women work to keep children safe from gun violence
For a variety of reasons, Barton says, some young people bow to the demands of the streets. Sometimes he said that children and teenagers were shooting.
“Our program included 12-year-old children. When there is a shooting and someone dies, it affects all of us,” Barton said.
Barton has been on the program for ten years. He also relies on the help of retired US Marine Thaddeus Wright.
“They just want a simple opportunity,” Wright said. “We are taking these children to emergency rooms. We’ll take them to the morgues. We’ll take them to funeral homes.”
Sometimes they bring the experiences of others to the children they serve.
RELATED: US records deadliest mass killing in six months: ‘What a terrible milestone’
“At the age of 15, I decided to take up a gun,” said Philip Crane. Crane was paroled two years ago.
“I was angry [and] embarrassed. As a child, I did not adapt well to abuse and carried it into adulthood, where I committed murder, ”Crane continued. “There is nothing I can do to save this life, but I hope I can help save others. The pain I have caused by my actions is terrible.”
Despite the difficulties the children face, Barton and Wright help them deal with their anger issues by making their dreams come true.
“These kids are buying and selling gun parts, trying to assemble them and selling them to each other. If you can do that, you can sell real estate, you can sell cars,” Barton said.
“To get from home to the bus stop, they have to wear armor with the inscription “I am bad.” I’m just as bad as you. They may not know how to say the word, but they just need a simple opportunity.”
To help Safe and Sound Hillsborough, Barton encourages volunteering and offers donations https://safeandsoundhillsborough.org/