Organization to end gun violence goes where teens are: social media

CHARLOTTE — If you know a teenager, you know they can spend hours every day on their cell phone.

A new push is using that very means to change the way young people think about guns and gun violence.

“It’s infuriating to watch the same thing over and over again and not see a different response,” says Taylor Maxwell with Project Unloaded.

Project Unloaded is an organization working to end gun violence by reducing the number of guns on the streets.

It’s an important message that’s especially relevant after three teenagers were shot within 24 hours in Charlotte. One neighbor, Meka Bennett, told Channel 9′s Erika Jackson she was stunned to learn that two of the victims were her teenaged neighbors in the Belmont area.

“What the heck? What happened? I was lost, I was shocked, and where it was at was so close to my house,” Bennett said.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department arrested a suspect in that shooting. The alleged shooter is another juvenile.

Maxwell says Project Unloaded is using social media to reach teens in Charlotte and other cities through videos and reels. The non-profit partners with influencers on TikTok, and it also uses Instagram and Snapchat to warn about the dangers of guns.

“Adults are unlikely to change their coffee order, much less their views on something like guns. So by reaching teens, we are able to reach folks that are still learning about the world,” Maxwell said.

Bennett told Jackson she’s been talking with her kids about ways to stay safe, all while their friends recover in the hospital.

“Yeah, I already did because they hang with them,” Bennett said.

Maxwell says she believes their program is working. She said the latest campaign has reached nearly 60,000 teens in Charlotte since January.

According to Maxwell, her research shows that 15% of teens who were exposed to the campaign were no longer interested in getting a gun after seeing those videos.

You can learn about Project Unloaded and get involved by clicking this link.

(WATCH >> Summer jobs keep teens away from crime. This program is helping Charlotte’s youth get them.)

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