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Students come together to stop school violence

Posted September 14, 2008
Updated September 15, 2008

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— There is growing concern gang activity is on the rise in Wake County schools. An event was held in Raleigh Sunday to help stop the violence and bring students together.

Crossroads Fellowship Church partnered with more than 35 area churches to host the back to school event at Millbrook High School. The idea of "One community, one event, one prayer, one heart, one God" was to promote positive change in schools and bring students together.

"You can reach out to almost anybody from almost any social class. So I think any student can make a difference, if they really believe that they can,” Hannah Hathaway said.

The event comes after a massive brawl at the Triangle Town Center in July. The brawl began on a Saturday evening inside the mall and involved as many as 300 people, police said. A 15-year-old was stabbed, and a police officer injured his leg in the incident, but neither injury was considered serious.

Then earlier this week, a gang related fight broke out at Enloe High School. About 15 students were involved in the altercation outside the school building entryway.

In August, Marvin Connelly Jr., Wake County schools assistant superintendent, said that gang activity is up in the school system. Last year, there were 692 gang incidents, compared with 520 the year before, a 33 percent increase.

The school system has programs to identify and prevent gang activity. Officials said the number of gang-related incidents are up, in part, because the school system is doing a better job of identifying gang activity.

According to a recent study, there are 13 recognized gangs in Wake County, with the Bloods being the most prominent. There are about 2,400 known gang members or associates in the county. Associates are members who might not live in the area, but who have spent considerable time or have been arrested locally.

“As a youth pastor, that breaks my heart to see that because I'm seeing all these students making bad choices. I'm really hoping with 40 plus youth groups and churches coming together that we can start influencing our community,” organizer Andy George said.

Most of the students at Sunday's event are members of their church youth groups.

“The challenge that they are going to be given at the end of this event is to reach out to those kids who are at risk and feel like they have no where to go,” volunteer Mary Wolkomir said.

Organizers say they want the students to know that they are not alone and that they can make a difference by getting together and mentoring other students who may be making bad choices.

15 Comments

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  • wwyoud Sep 16, 2008

    Why isn't there a black kids event? Maybe they see the futility in a bunch of feel-good slogans as opposed to actions that benefit everyone...

  • readme Sep 15, 2008

    Hey guys, don't dismiss them just because they are a bunch of religious white kids. At least they are sort of trying to do something. Yes, it would be much better to see a picture full of black kids holding an event to get rid of gangs and promote "unity" with or w/o religion. Maybe we should ask why there is no such event.

  • whatusay Sep 15, 2008

    neutral observer... you are correct. When anyone tries to address the issue of gang culture, baggy pants, colors, rap, they are tagged as a racist. And, the problem is culture. Many races are rebelling and have isolated themselves into their own cultural environment and have an "IN YOUR FACE" attitude. Racism in this country is worse now than anytime in the last 40 years, and it is getting worse.

  • wwyoud Sep 15, 2008

    How does a bunch of white kids reinforcing their faith as the ONLY faith, and on school grounds none the less, do anything for violence??! How about parents volunteering more time at school, or supporting efforts to enforce current dress codes re: baggy pants, colors, and skimpy clothes? This is a neighborhood problem that bleeds over into the schools; solve the neighborhood issues, and the schools will clean up. And please, take your theocracy back to church - your god hasn't done anything to help so far, what makes you think he'll do so now?

  • JAT Sep 15, 2008

    exactly, wise owl. This sounds like just a reason for a bunch of white kids to get together on Sunday and listen to music and it makes their parents feel safe so they let them.

    If they really wanted to rid the school of gangs, they'd be talking to the gangs and working in bad neighborhoods and black churches and homeless shelters.

  • anneonymousone Sep 15, 2008

    Ice cream, I wondered about the theological underpinnings, too, as well as why it seems to have been held on school grounds.

    Are there gangs of violent polytheists running amok in NC of which I'm unaware? Is militant atheism getting out of hand?

  • CAROLINA43 Sep 15, 2008

    Implement school uniforms.

  • neutral observer Sep 15, 2008

    Please quit calling it, gangs, poverty, and other catch phrases, its CULTURE! The only thing that can change that is the very people living within this culture. Everytime someone within that culture trys to address the problem for what it is, they are presented as, "racist", or someother catch phrase. Keep on with status quo and nothing will change. We mask the truth by treating the symptom and ignoring the problem.

  • keiott Sep 15, 2008

    Change has to start somewhere. Why can't you give these people some credit for trying to encourage change? At least they are out there doing something in stead of sitting behind there computer just giving oppinions!!!!

  • ice cream Sep 15, 2008

    I'm confused...do these churches think that gang violence is the result of non-Christians (ie, Jewish people, atheists, agnostics, etc.)?

    Also, I sincerely hope that none of those students go try to "mentor" a gang member...yikes.

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