In my last month column, I provided information straight from the mouths of gang members explaining their reasons for the continued shooting and violence that appears to have no real ending anytime soon. Sadly, each column that I write over the next 10 months could produce a comment on a recent murder of an intended and/or unintended woman, man, youth, or infant in the St. Paul and Minneapolis areas.
Parents, do not dismiss your teen’s expressions of not wanting to go to school because of the fear of being shot or beaten while exchanging city buses, or while exiting any particular schools bus. The majority of our youth’s time is in school, five days a week, eight hours each day. Youth spend a lot of time away from home, in school with staff that are getting paid to educate and prepare our youth towards being productive members in society.
You all have to understand my point. The growing violence compared to the amount of time our youth are in school should force you as a parent to ascertain what, if anything, that school is doing to change behavior, to assist youth in getting out of gangs. You should know what programs, activities, or after school programs at your school are focusing on violence and gang prevention, because our youth spend the majority of their time away from home. Many of them are growing, developing and making choices leading into prison and death, instead of leading them to be productive members of our society.
I looked at one school that has sites in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minnesota Internship Center has schools in North and South Minneapolis and St. Paul, and many of their students spend more time at their schools than with their own families.
I asked the director, Kevin Byrnes, and the assistant director, Reginald Womack, with the large number of Black youth at your sites, what is their focus on violence prevention, and what are their ideas to ensure that students return to school the next day, as opposed to being shot dead and/or arrested on a serious gang related offense? Below are their responses:
Our students at MNIC are not necessarily looking forward to this summer because of the violence, death and trauma it’s going to bring. Let us keep this in mind and do our part to educate and change minds one person at a time.
- Use the great number of one-on-ones with students to talk about avoiding school and community violence.
- Use the great number of parent conferences to talk to parents about being aware of school and community violence and playing a part to decrease it.
- During the last two weeks of school, take one to three days to call all students to assembly for the last hour of the day to address summer safety and violence.
- Have 3-4 pm open to any students that would like to stay and talk about school and community safety concerns with staff and other students.
- Create a “Thinking for Change” program to address decision making in life.
- Continue to connect students with jobs, summer programs, etc. by way of student cell phones to give alternatives to running the streets.
- Have an after-hours drop-in center for students to relax, play games, and participate in social skills building.
I am asking you the reader — the parent, grandparent, youth worker — to go to the school your son/daughter or client is attending and ask what is this school doing to address the murders, shootings and violence our youth are surrounded by daily, because our youth are in school more than around their own family. Do not leave without answers.
This columnist is willing to assist parents in this type of school discovery. Contact me at the number, or email address below.
Lucky Rosenbloom welcomes reader’s responses to 612-661-0923, or email him at email@example.com.