Using education to combat youth violence

School board member hopes to educate students, families about gang violence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the fight against crime in Jacksonville, anti-violence programs created by local police, pastors and even Duval County's Superintendent of Schools are popping up to try and help keep the city safe.

Monday night, one school board member did what she could to try and educate local families about gangs and the ways to keep their children safe.

Dr. Connie Hall represents Jacksonville's School Board District 5 and hopes the knowledge expert speakers shared Monday, will help parents better protect their most prized possessions.

Jeanette Mitchell and her grandson tiptoed into Zion Hope Baptist Church off Edgewood Avenue, and slipped into a pew just as Hall was explaining the goal of the community meeting she organized for the Northwest Jacksonville area to help residents better understand local gangs, and discuss ways to eradicate violence.

Mitchell has a daughter in Middle School, and knows kids that young are being recruited by gang members.

"I will have info to take back to (my daughter) to let her know what to expect, what to look for and what not to get into," Mitchell said.

Dr. Hall said the solution begins, with concerned parents like Mitchell.

And for Mitchell it's comforting to know local leaders are there to support parents.

Police Detective Jeffrey Shouse is one of those local leaders and was among Hall's guest speakers, trying to give people insight into the violent world of gangs.

"Our communities are a microcosm of our schools, so it's really our job to work with our community to work together to solve whatever issues that exist," Hall said.

The pastor of Zion Hope Baptist Church which hosted Monday night's meeting said that along with the raw information about gang violence, parents should also understand there is a ray of hope through God, and working together.

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