Young Men in Trouble

, Posted: Fri, February 10 2012 at 12:22 PM, Updated: Fri, February 10 2012 at 6:57 PM

It's the start of a new year, and already two young men, 18-year-old Elias Ruiz and 20-year-old James Georgeson have been shot dead by law enforcement in the same month.

Seppie Greico, Georgeson's mother is still reeling from her loss.

"I fought the good fight and I lost. I lost my only son," said Greico.

Her son, James Georgeson was shot and killed in west Medford by Federal Marshals in early January. He was wanted on a drug probation violation.

"I don't condone everything he did..." said Greico.

"It's a Dangerous Trend"

Nationally, young men are six times more likely to be killed than women their age. That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's a dangerous trend," said Sargeant Mike Budreau with the Medford Police Department.

Young men, more at risk of death, and the trend also holds true all over Southern Oregon.

"The unfortunate reality is [...]the younger males are just more prone to criminal activity than other age brackets," said Budreau.

The Numbers in Medford

Last year almost 2000 young men between the ages of 18 and 25 were arrested by the Medford Police. That's almost three times the number of similar aged women and about double the number of older men.

"It's really sad when you see somebody so young making such poor decisions [...] there's a propensity for violence and danger and death," said Budreau.

But the question remains, is there anything we can do?

What Can We Do?

Sargeant Budreau said more needs to be done.

"Obviously I don't think we're doing a great job, I think we could definitely be doing a better job in addressing the issue," he said.

Community activists like Tom Cole, the Executive Director at Kids Unlimited, agree that changes need to happen.

"When we get to the point where we're contacting the police, with domestic issues and...issues around vulnerabilities with kids, we're at the very end of the spectrum," said Cole.

Cole knew Elias Ruiz, who was killed by Medford Police after a 9-1-1 call came from his house.

"The subject wielded a large knife," said Medford Police Chief Tim George.

"This was a kid who had some struggles," began Cole. "He was a kid who dealt with bullying, tried to avoid gangs, really feared for his safety at some points," he said.

Cole believes people need to work together to provide more options and resources for families and kids in trouble.

"The philosophy of giving up on kids has to change," said Cole.

Georgeson's mother said she never gave up on Jimmy, but she feels society did.

"If people embrace them [...] and keep them around positive things, you got a chance," said Greico.

A Young Man's Perspective

19-year-old Kasey Banks agreed that it's about having someone you can rely on.

"It's pretty easy to make wrong decisions if you don't have a mentor in your life," said Banks. 

He continued, "Here there's a lot of mentors and stuff but if you don't have the right guidance then you will most likely make the wrong decisions."

Moving Forward

One thing is certain, every year young men are lost to violence.

How to stop it may be less clear but those we spoke with said it starts with one thing...belief that it can get better.

If you want to help, below are some places you can volunteer:

Community Works (541) 779-2393

Kids Unlimited (541) 774-3900

The Boys and Girls Club (541) 479-5258

As always, they also need money to keep going and rely on donations.

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