Fayetteville hopes film will help stem youth violence
Posted September 16, 2014 10:36 p.m. EDT
Updated September 16, 2014 10:40 p.m. EDT
Fayetteville, N.C. — Seventh and ninth graders in Cumberland County Schools will soon watch a movie that law enforcement and school officials hope will help reduce the amount of youth violence in the city.
While the film comes as the city continues to grapple with the issue, including an incident where a teenager who spoke out against violence was shot and killed as gang members exchanged bullets, only a few dozen parents watched a screening of “Decision Points” at Douglas Byrd High School Tuesday night.
The film details the story of a young man who makes a series of bad choices with devastating consequences. The movie also highlights the problems cell phones and social media can create when teenagers spread the word about an upcoming party.
Officials wanted parents to understand how technology plays a role in community violence.
Fayetteville police say that’s often how gatherings get out of hand.
It was at a house party in June where gang members exchanged at least 70 shots. At least one of those bullets struck Ravon Detrail Jordan, 19. He died the next day.
Just weeks before his death, Jordan spoke out during a Fayetteville city council meeting about violence at a troubled apartment complex where his best friend and her boyfriend were killed.
Investigators do not believe Jordan’s killing was in revenge for speaking out.
Hundreds gathered outside the Cumberland County Courthouse the next month to call for an end to youth violence in the city. At that point, out of the city’s 34 homicides since the beginning of 2013, 17 of those charged were between ages 14 and 26, as noted in the Fayetteville Observer’s Seeking Safety series.
But violence involving young people has continued since. A 23-year-old man was shot and killed Sept. 9 in what police believe was an attempted robbery. That same day, a 23-year-old wanted for three shootings was captured after he was found hiding in a clothes dryer inside a Cumberland County home.
Authorities hopes the movie’s messages of making better decisions and not resorting to violence will catch on with students.
“They're very impressionable at that age,” said Lisa Jayne, Operation Ceasefire program coordinator for the Fayetteville Police Department. “In this school system, it's the year they can try out for sports and kind of get into their group of friends they may keep until they graduate.”
Karen Wells was one of the few parents who attended Tuesday’s screening. She wanted to know the things her daughter may experience in school.
“We can't keep turning a blind eye to it,” she said. “It's a sad story. It could be our child. And I think more people need to get involved.”