PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — In an effort to curb crime in the city, Petersburg officials are putting a spotlight on youth.

The city held a community meeting at the Petersburg Public Library Friday to discuss a Youth Intervention Taskforce. Andre Norman, the event’s keynote speaker, said the goal is to design a plan that focuses on the children.

“The city violence is because we have a lot of young kids who are growing up without proper parenting or proper support,” he said. “The city and these agencies can provide that when they unite.”

Norman said the taskforce should include the sheriff, the city manager, the schools’ superintendent and the police chief.

Travis Christian, Petersburg’s police chief, said one violent crime — whether committed by a child or an adult — is one too many.

“A hug and a smile, a hug and a sandwich. Little things like that make a difference in a kid’s life and sometimes we fall short with our busy days and things we have to do as adults,” he said.

Norman said community engagement for children is key for reducing crime.

“If we don’t get them early, then they grow up to be young people in trouble. They grow up to be people who kill or get killed. They become people who end up in the streets or end up in prison,” he said. “If they know you’re going to show up, you’re going to be there and you care about them then they will give it their all.”

The meeting discuss didn’t funding or programs, but it did bring up resources like social services that will help to identify the root causes of crime.