Rockford group addresses problem of youth violence through hip-hop music

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ROCKFORD (WREX) – Rockford has a violent crime problem and police say a growing part of that problem is young people. So how do we as a community talk to kids about gangs? Crime? And bad choices?

“A child that’s raised in these environments and acts out, we wonder why they would act out but a lot of the time they’re suffering trauma,” Kid Culture founder Patrick Pursley said.

For kids growing up in violent neighborhoods, the messages they see and hear every day can make a big impact on the choices they make in life. That’s why a Rockford group called Kid Culture is trying to change messages of violence and crime into something more positive.

“You need to involve them in something positive, something that stimulates the brain process,” Pursley said.

Pursley founded Kid Culture in 2002, while he was in prison for murder. He’s now in the middle of a retrial after new evidence called into question his guilt. However, that hasn’t stopped Pursley from pushing forward with kid culture and trying to empower Rockford youth.

“What we trying to do is to dictate a new path for them, through arts and talent,” Kid Culture producer Tyrese Holt said.

This past fall, Kid Culture released its first mix-tape, called ‘Choices,’ which focuses on important topics like education, family and the dangers of gangs.

“Trying to encourage other people to have good grades in schools, so they can go higher and higher in classes,” Kid Culture youth rapper Jibrion Thompson said.

But Kid Culture says it’s not just about the music. Going forward, the group says it wants to focus on the cycle of violence and how trauma plays a part.

“We’re coming at the youth violence epidemic on the academic level and the street level and the academic level is to get the understanding and recognition that a lot of these kids grow up in war zones,” Pursley said.

Trying to get to the root of Rockford’s youth violence, while also empowering the city’s kids with messages of hope.

Click here to learn more about Kid Culture.

Taylor Utzig

Taylor Utzig


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