Local News

School Gangs Prompt Father to Send Son Out of Cumberland County

Posted February 10, 2007

— A Fayetteville parent is so worried about his son's safety because of gangs in a high school that he has pulled his teenager out of class and sent him to another county.

Gangs are a dangerous trend that authorities say is only getting worse.

The case in point is Cape Fear High School. James Herring believes gangs are out of control there, and he pulled his 15-year-old son out of class after the boy was threatened by gang members.

"He was scared to go back in there," Herring said Friday. "These schools right here are getting bad."

He charged that school officials did nothing, even though there were witnesses to the incident with his son.

"These kids witnessed it and told the principal they saw it, and the principal said, ‘We'll talk to them.’"

Principal Jeffrey Jernigan declined to discuss the case with WRAL,

However, Tim Kinlaw, associate superintendent for auxiliary services for the Cumberland County Schools said there is an issue for educators to deal with.

"I think it’s getting worse throughout North Carolina, and we're seeing it at a younger age," Kinlaw said.

According to school records, nine students at Cape Fear High were punished for gang-related activities last year. It's easy to find evidence of those gangs’ “tags”—their markings—even on street signs just down the road from the school.

"There's no real wanna-be's. If they wanna be, they're gonna be," said Fayetteville Police Lt. Mark Bridgeman. “You have to take it seriously."

Police are working with schools to divert gangsters from a lifestyle of violence, and the student code of conduct now has a separate category for gang activity and says it is punishable under a zero-tolerance policy.

Herring is skeptical.

"The principal, teachers and officers on duty are scared of the gangs, or the don't have the resources to control the gangs,” Herring said. "If they can't handle it, the parents need to get more involved and take care of it."

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  • Renzo Trigoso Jun 3, 2016
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  • mikeNC Feb 12, 2007

    Harsher punishments. I can understand what you are saying. Taking someone who spends their day on the corner or at the public basketball courts, hanging out with their friends and putting them in prison is like throwing Brair Rabbit in the briar patch. To take that person with that life and put him in a community/prison where all he has to do is stand around, play basketball with his inmate friends, lift weights, and tell lies to each other about the things they've done, that is foolish.

    However, take that gang member/criminal and put a 20 pound sledge hammer in his hands, leg irons on his ankles and drop him in the corner of a rock quarry by himself and make him bust rocks all day every day, rain or shine, hot or cold, for every day of his sentence and I doubt he would want to go back when he is finally released.

  • mikeNC Feb 12, 2007

    Another story, I graduated from High School in 1988, the student who graduated #1 in our class lived in a homeless shelter with his mother. I attended East Carolina with that same student, his education was funded by scholarships and loans and HARD WORK, but he did it. Nobody is saying that it is easy, but I just think using a person's economic background as the reason they can't get an education is an excuse and is not true.

  • mikeNC Feb 12, 2007

    Hail2opeth, you made the statement "I ain't no kid's savior" and I ask why? If you saw a 12 year old boy, standing on the pedistrian/bike bridge over the beltline, about to jump into traffic. Would you try to talk him out of it or would you stand back and watch that kid ruin his life and possibly the lives of the people driving down the beltline? A kid jumping from the bridge will be no more/less harmfull than that kid joining a gang.

  • mikeNC Feb 12, 2007

    I agree with you Hail2opeth. Regardless of your specific economic situation growing up, you can still encourage a kid to stay in high school and stress to them the importance of education. I'm not saying it needs to be your job, however maybe if you just visited a local high school chemistry class once you could encourage a kid to follow your foot steps. I'm not saying it would be easy for eveybody, but thru loans and scholarships and other means it is possible. I agree if a young man or young woman is capable and WILLING to study and learn, they should be allowed the opportunity to get a college education regardless of the economic background.

  • hail2opeth Feb 12, 2007

    Regarding harsher punishments for criminals, I predict it would have a minimal effect on instilling fear in criminals. The problem is not that criminals don't fear the justice system. It's that they have nothing to lose when they get caught. Take you and I for instance. If either of us had the desire to commit a crime, the risk to our reputations - our good name among our family, friends, and colleagues - would far outweigh the potential benefit. Thus we restrain ourselves from any temptation, say to blow away the Yankee driver who rudely cuts in front of us in traffic. But if you have no job, no education, no loving parents to disappoint, no kids to take care of, no wealth to lose, no self esteem, nothing but the shirt on your back and the Glock in your pocket, what have you got to lose if you get caught robbing a bank? If you had any hope tomorrow would be better, then you might care whether you risk serving 1 year verses 10. But without that hope, what's the difference?

  • hail2opeth Feb 12, 2007

    Well mikealford419, as I was saying, life isn't fair. My successes are a better illustration of how one person, having significant advantages, is capable of doing well, if he is willing to work hard. This is why I feel strongly that everyone should be entitled to a publicly funded college education. This is a social contribution that every generation, both yours and mine, can make. And the money is already there! All we would need to do is demand our government stop wasting so much of it on military spending. Take that War in Iraq for instance. Like the idea of outlawing guns in America, spreading democracy to Iraq is a prime example of a flowery idea that proves disasterous in practice. We could have sent a whole generation of kids to college for free with the money we've wasted on that war. I supported the invasion! But in hindsight, I can see it was a very costly mistake, literally!

  • mikeNC Feb 11, 2007

    opeth, that's why I mentioned earlier in the dialog about you being able to help. I don't mean you alone, but as in you as your generation. Your generation is more likely to understand the gang lifestyle and communicate with the teenagers. As an educated member of the generation you can impact and influence the younger generations and use your successes to show the kids that it is possible to get away from the gangs and have a successful, clean life without all the confusion.

  • mikeNC Feb 11, 2007

    tauron, I agree, we have talked about gun laws etc. rather than restricting the freedom of the people, perhaps we should do a better job of restricting the freedoms of the criminals by having harsher punishments. Our society is hung up on cruel and unusual punishment there is nothing for the criminals to fear.

  • hail2opeth Feb 11, 2007

    mikealford419, I agree with you that violence would escalate if we removed guns in America. To outlaw guns, without enacting other equally radical social reforms, such as drug legalization, socialized medicine, free college educations, etc., would make matters much worse. The countries that have successfully reduced crime by outlawing guns have done a lot more than just outlaw guns. We simply choose to do things differently here in America. And the gang problems we have to deal with are just the downside of it. Personally, I'd rather put up with our system, work hard to earn an advanced education, use the high income that education commands to become wealthy, buy a house in a nice neighborhood, send my kids to a safer than average school, and have my own firearms to defend my family in the anarchy that follows natural disasters, such as Katrina. But I've had lots of advantages in life that others haven't had. Life's not fair!! Buy mine's good, so I'm cool with our system! =)