Local News

State Task Force Working to Prevent School Violence

Posted June 7, 1999

— Members of a state task force have about 75 days before the new school year to render a plan toGov. Jim Hunton ways to combat and prevent youth violence in schools and communities, panel leaders said Tuesday.

The 48 members of theGovernor's Task Force on Youth Violence and School Safetyconvened for the first time Tuesday.

The panel, which includes three high school students, law enforcement officers and state leaders, will discuss several topics over the course of five meetings this summer.

"There are so many things out there other than violence that you can use to channel your energy through," says Walter Herring, a 17-year-old who used to be the target of bullies. He turned his anger into something positive.

"They took those feelings and went out and shot up a school," he said. "I take the feelings that I had from that, and I put myself out there and I do things like [the task force], I write and I involve myself on a community level."

The task force was formed afterthe shootings at Columbine High School.

"We had hundreds of parents calling with total anguish saying, 'Should I send my child to school tomorrow? What should I do?'" saidRichard Moore, secretary of theN.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.

In the 1997/1998 school year there were more than 7,500 incidents of violence reported in North Carolina's schools. That figure is down 7 percent from the year before, but the task force says the state can do better.

"It isn't so much that you want to stop the violence as you want to help the child," says high school teacher Judy Darling, who says help begins at home. "Parents are the first line of defense, and need to be listening to those children and helping to heal that despair."

Parents are one step closer to becoming responsible for children who make school bomb threats. AHousecommittee agreed with aSenatebill to allow civil lawsuits against parents who knew their children were making threats, but did nothing to stop it.

If the full House passes the measure, the law could take effect September 1.

From staff and wire reports.


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