ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — School is out for the summer in Pinellas County and the St. Petersburg community is coming together to steer teenagers in the right direction during the summer months.

They’re getting ready to launch a program that will travel to different parts of the city every week until the new school year begins.

The Department of Justice says teen crimes spike as much as 35 percent during the summer months, but parents are coming together to take a stand.

“In 2015 we had 7 young people murdered that led to the “Not My Son” campaign and still we have a level of mischief and misdirection for young people,” said Rev. Kenny Irby, Community Intervention Director for the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Formerly known as “Not My Son,” a campaign conceived to support young African
American men, the program was renamed to “Not My Child” to reach all students across St.

Most importantly, the “Not My Child” campaign is meant to encourage positive enrichment for youth, share strong anti-violence messages, and promote safe neighborhoods.

“What concerns me the most is peer pressure the social pressure that really ramps up through the summer,” said Shylah Sams.

Shylah Sams is a mother who’s making sure her 13-year-old twins spend their summer days focused on the future.

“I don’t want to go down the wrong path and I see other people going down the wrong path,” said Shannyn Sams. “I see what they get into at the end and it’s not nice looking at that, so I want to see myself do great instead of going down that path.”

A true community effort, the “Not My Child” campaign is focused on engaging parents, families, and their neighbors in the lives of teenagers in St. Petersburg to encourage them to make positive choices.

“I don’t want to be like everyone else on the street who do bad things and end up homeless,” said Shaun Sams. “I don’t want to do any of that.”

The goal is to take time to have those important and challenging conversations while leaning on the community for support.

“Open communication is always good,” said Shylah Sams. “We usually talk around dinner time and talk about events we see in the community whether it’s good or bad and we have that open line of communication.”