Community forum aims to combat violence

Posted at 10:58 PM, Apr 27, 2016
It's not about judgment, it's about starting an important conversation.  
Teachers, law enforcement officials, students and parents met Wednesday night to talk about the violence plaguing schools, its affect on the community and how to stop it.  
The forum fell on the very night the unrest surrounding Freddie Gray's death began last year. 
Now, residents are ready for peace and fed up with the violence permeating city schools.
"He actually pulled my legs from under me at dismissal time and I ended up falling directly on my coccyx, on my tailbone on a tile floor," Jennifer Jones, a teacher who was hurt by one of her students, said.
That student caused Jones three years of painful recovery.  But she's not bitter. She's ready for change.
"I think that it's extremely important that everyone is sitting down to discuss violence in schools, student violence, student teacher violence," Jones said. "I don't blame him, it's the system.  He needed help earlier in the day and there was nothing in place to actually help him."
Teachers say some students have emotional issues because they face an unstable home life, sometimes riddled with drugs and violence.
"What are we supposed to do when the situations, the circumstances when there is violence in the school, there's been so many things that we've been told we can't do. We want to know what we can do," said high school teacher Laquisha Hall.
But accountability seems to be the real issue.
"Some of the teachers, the students come right back the next day, the teachers' out injured and the student's back in classroom.  So to some teachers they feel like their getting hurt and the child is just getting a slap on the wrist," Pamela Mintz said.
"The schools are afraid to discipline because they don't want to be labeled or they don't want to get sent off to the state because you don't want to have too many suspensions or you're considered a bad school," parent Tisge Gabriel, said.
The struggle is in finding a balance.
"We can talk about it but let's come with solutions, what are some things that we can do to help, something that we can do to both support our schools, our community and our teachers," president of the Baltimore Teachers Union Marietta English said.
And forums like these may be the first steps towards a permanent solution.
"Teachers are getting attacked and students are getting attacked verbally by the teachers so we're just out here trying to solve the negative violence going around in this city.  It's been going on too long," student Steven Anderson said.
"When there's a shooting, a stabbing, somebody gets hurts, it's only his family, it affects the student, the students around him, the community around him, the parents and then the extended family.  All of us are affected by it," English said.

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