ST. LOUIS – Two teen girls are in the hospital after being shot in Downtown St. Louis over the weekend. Community and government leaders say the city hasn’t done enough about the youth violence downtown and elsewhere, including the cause of the trouble and the solutions.

Mike McMillan, head of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, attempted to put the weekend’s troubles into perspective.

“We just had graduation season, so the huge majority of our people are graduating from high school, going on to some level of career or technical college or university,” he said. “So, you’re dealing with a small group of people that’s causing a huge amount of issues and problems.”

McMillan admits much more needs to be done to reach the troubled youngsters.

The Urban League has part of the Cure Violence contract. Workers go into troubled areas and seek out people with mental health problems, joblessness, and other issues to steer them away from crime. McMillan admits they’re up against a lot.

“Of course, we all know poverty and lack of opportunity and jobs,” he said. “And then the culture, sadly, the time that we are living in, that has been celebrating violence just adds to it.”

St. Louis Alderman Brandon Bosley says the city dropped the ball on the issue of youth violence. He says there are not enough activities for kids to do like keeping recreation centers open later.

Bosley once called for sending in the National Guard to patrol troubled neighborhoods to tamp down violence.

“At the time where I called for the National Guard, it would have been a good preventative measure at that time because it was a turning point,” he said. “Right now, things have already turned. “

Bosley says kids need more activities to keep them occupied.

“If we get these kids early and we get them something to do, we put them inside the rec centers and we put money inside and teach them something, then you get a chance to tell them something,” he said. “You can’t tell them nothing right now because they don’t know you, they don’t want to talk to us.”

Dr. Kendra Holmes believes the COVID pandemic is one of the reasons for crime and violence among youth, even though there was crime before the pandemic hit.

“There were certain children that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and those are minority children, underserved children, and many of those children lost loved ones in their families, oftentimes a parent or a grandparent,” she said. “A lot are dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of seeing the deaths as the toll of the pandemic.”