Bronx Youth Address School Violence
On Friday, a coalition of Bronx youth groups held a series of workshops designed to address fighting and other types of violence inside city schools. NY1’s Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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In a packed lunchroom full of teens, Bronx students say a fight can break out at any moment.
“Fighting because they stepped on each other’s shoe or because they pushed each other. There so many people there,” said Clinton High School student Jonathan Espinosa.
High school students who gathered from around the Bronx at Hostos Community College Friday said violence occurs regularly at many schools. They attended workshops to to figure out ways to reduce student violence.
"These things happen every day inside our school system. It is always great to bring attention to it so we can change the negativity going on," said Elaiysa Scott of Safe Horizons.
"In this opportunity, we are able to express our feeling and show what issues we are able to overcome," said high school junior Danielle McCoy.
In workshops on mediation and conflict resolution, the issues ranged from simple fist fights, to gun violence, racial discrimination and abusive teen relationships.
"We separate the students from arguing and talk to each one of them and let them know you can't do that,” said Leadership Institute student Dominique Hamilton. “What's the problem, you hear two sides of the story, and then we have them talk to each other."
Teens at this event say students must stop the violence, but they also say educators have to come up with better ways of dealing with the problem.
A group from Chicago joined Bronx organizations in saying simply suspending or expelling a student is not the answer.
"And don't tell them they are going to end up in jail and they are going to end up to be nothing,” said Bronx youth advocate Shawnta Washington. “If you don't give them hope, why would they even have hope?"
"Zero tolerance is all about punishment and being punitive, but discipline should be about teaching and instruction," said Chicago youth advocate Robert Spicer.
Department of Education officials said there is peer mediation and they are implementing programs to spot the warning signs of violence. The DOE said a combination of programs including increased security at troubled schools has reduced major felony crimes by 11 percent. Education officials said any student who has a problem with violence can email them at email@example.com.