Save Our Sons hopes to bring fathers, sons together

Group wants to teach sons how to interact with police, talk to fathers

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Local church and community leaders are hoping to take the events surrounding Trayvon Martin's death and making something positive out of it.

They are calling it Save Our Sons and hope to make Jacksonville the center of the program to bring together fathers and sons who have been at odds or out of the picture in family development.

It's one way they hope to deal with a crime problem that they say can be solved by just talking to dads.

A community center on the Northside could serve as the headquarters for Save Our Sons nationwide. The group says its getting support already from 18 cities to serve as a catalyst or spark to bring fathers and sons together and teach them how to interact with police.

"I don't live with my dad. I see him sometimes, but not all the time," said Kenton Hoffman.

Hoffman said he has a pretty good relationship with his dad, but he's not someone he could call if he were in trouble.

That's the attitude the group of ministers and community leaders is trying to change. They held a big rally two months ago, bringing kids, teens, their families and police together.

Now the group hopes take their message nationwide and use Jacksonville as the springboard.

"Because of part of what we are going to do is equip fathers on how to help their sons," Rev. John Guns said.

Part of that would be to teach young boys and teens who get in trouble with police to ask if they can call their dad.

"We are recommending that our young men, first of all, develop a healthy respect for police," Guns said. "I think we have to partner with the sheriff's department to look at a creative way to remove this sense of tension and opposition."

The group says dads need to learn how to handle tough situations as well.

Bracy Taylor is a dad and says he had to learn how to parent the hard way because his natural father was not around when he grew up. He was lucky to have a stepfather who stepped in.

"There are fathers out there who have sons now that struggle with the disconnect with their fathers," Taylor said. "So now that they are fathers, they don't know how to be fathers to their sons."

It's not just a problem for the black community. The group says it's for the entire city.

"We are losing our sons much to soon," Sharon Banks said. "Too many in too many communities. It's not just the Northside or the Westside. It's a Duval County, Jacksonville issue."

In September, Save Our Sons will hold a rally for dads called Father for Fathers in hopes of fathers beginning passing on those skills.

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