PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Less than halfway through the year, the City of Petersburg has been the site of nearly 40 reported shooting incidents, according to crime data released by the police department.

In the week following a unanimous City Council vote to extend Petersburg’s curfew for minors to help address the spike in gun violence, local leaders, community members, law enforcement officers and students met Monday night for a roundtable discussion on how to move forward and curtail the shootings.

Students, like Petersburg High School senior Tylik Lawrence, said that there was a need for increased social opportunities in more positive environments for the city’s youth.

“I think we need more extracurricular programs for the kids, things like recreation centers, places for kids to go to play basketball, football,” Lawrence, a student-athlete himself, said. “They outside doing stuff they ain’t supposed to ’cause there ain’t really nothing else to do. So I just feel like we need more places to go as kids to have fun, stay out of trouble.”

Interim City Manager Kenneth Miller stated that the city would be investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the fiscal year 2022-23 in programs for young people — $590,000 for Parks and Leisure; $97,000 for museums; $130,000 to hire and educate 30 students from Blandford Academy to intern with the city.

Police Chief Travis Christian also noted that, of the city’s seven homicides in 2022, one of them claimed the life of an individual under the age of 18.

“We quickly want to say that our kids is our problems. Our kids are not real problems in our city. We have some young adults, grown adults that are problems,” he said. “You think about our children and how they grow up. They’re following what they see, and if we expect our city to do better and change, as adults, we got to do a little better, too.”

Noting what Chief Christian said about young adults being impacted by gun violence, as opposed to minors, who are impacted by the city’s curfew, Sean Miller with the Boys and Girls Club said that the organization’s programs would be shifting focus.

“Traditionally, [the] Boys and Girls Club serves kids 6 to 18 years old. We have made a shift, and we’re starting to pay more attention to that middle school and high school population,” Miller said. “We’re starting to look at our alumni, as well, because they need a network they can plug into. So how can we serve as a conduit to give them access to some things?”