MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The U.S. Census Bureau says that 1 in 4 children don’t have a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home. Those who do are less likely to pick up a gun.
Memphis non-profit founder Jerald Trotter has a mission to mentor male students and believes father figures are part of the solution to lower gun violence in the city.
He's sharing lessons about manhood.
“It’s not about violence, it’s not about what you can make someone do, it’s not even about how much money you’re able to get," he said. "If there’s not a grown man around it leads to angst for our young teenage black males.”
Trotter mentors male students with his non-profit Saving Absalom. He's also sharing lessons from his own father.
“I can remember him showing me how to shake hands with a man firmly, look him in his eye," Trotter recalled. "When you give you a word, your word has to be your bond.”
The founder educates Memphis boys on conflict resolution and not letting anger control their actions.
Trotter’s speaking from experience you might recognize him from a PSA from the city of Memphis and Crime Commission.
He said his temper got the best of him 22 years ago. That’s when he served time after a deadly shooting.
“The situation got out of hand. I ended up killing someone that I shouldn't have killed," he said.
Now he’s explaining to boys growing up in Memphis that "real men don’t murder."
“I met a lot of inmates who had gone through the same thing and who had done the same thing," he said. "I started to see what was common between me and them and I developed a message that I could bring out here.”
It's message that’s getting kids to learn their triggers.
“If I can get to their beliefs over an amount of time, then that'll take the violence of retribution, the violent reaction out of their repertoire," explained Trotter.
An important point he's stressing is to think before you act.
“When I say don't lose your head, use your head. I'm telling you to look at a situation and see if it's that serious," said Trotter." "To see if it's that crucial to where you're going to resort to violence, or even taking someone's life.”