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Why Sacramento's youth homicide rates are on the rise

Sacramento didn't see any children killed in 2018 and 2019, but 2020 is shaping up to be one of the most violent in over five years with four youth deaths.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — A community youth leader is on the front lines of what Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg described as a "gun epidemic" happening in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Berry Accius, a founder of Voice of Youth, spoke to ABC10 about the challenges and possible solutions to the crisis. 

According to Sacramento police, the city saw no children killed in 2018 and 2019. However, 2020 is shaping up to be one of the most violent in over the past five years with four youth deaths.

The only year that had more children killed in Sacramento was 2017, which saw eight children killed.  

Accius said kids not being in school and not having sports is playing a relevant role in these numbers.

"The psychological warfare that's happening with our young people is real...," Accius said. "The mental health investment is going to be a huge deal moving forward because some of your young people are not having value for their own lives as well as for the lives that they take."

Steinberg invested millions in activities like community pop-up events. He said the city of Sacramento shouldn't stop investing in these community programs. 

"We gotta double and triple down on the investment on the front end and to hold perpetrators accountable for jeopardizing or taking the lives of people," Steinberg said. 

Accius said the community pop-ups "actually worked because they kept youth off the street as well as youth employed."

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