GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Guilford County Schools leaders are calling on parents and community members to step up and help stop violence in schools.

It’s part of the district’s latest push, after several fights on campus in the past few months.

Thursday night, many parents tonight attended an engagement event at the GTCC Middle College High School in High Point. They know the violence won’t end overnight. It’s going to take multiple groups of people and tools to stop the fighting. But they said it starts at home with the example parents and guardians are setting. That’s why they showed up to support their children and show the teachers they care.

“If we don’t let our kids know that education is important, how can we expect them to think education is important,” said Erin Shoaf, who had a son in 11th grade in the Guilford County Schools system. “If we’re not here and present, then what message does that give our young children?”

Shoaf has heard about recent fights within the district at high school football games and on campuses, as well as a weapon being brought to Dudley High School.

“It really worries me what these young kids are doing nowadays,” she said.

The violence hits home for the mom, whose other son was shot and killed in High Point in 2019.

“It’s very bothersome,” said Shoaf. “You know these kids need to go to school to learn, to better themselves, their careers, to make productive citizens in our community and those environments.”

She was among the nearly 80 parents who came to meet their children’s teachers and discuss their progress.

“I think it’s important that the teachers, the administration, principals see your face and know that you are involved and that if anything comes up or arises with your children you can help out,” said Battista Smith, who has a daughter in 11th grade.

GCS Superintendent, Dr. Whitney Oakley, is asking parents throughout the school system to have the same mindset.

“This is not something that the school district can do alone,” she said at a news conference on Wednesday. “What’s happening in schools is a reflection of what’s happening across our community.”

Dr. Oakley met with more than 100 students Thursday and learned they want to see more mental health support, improvement of facilities and additional safety staff, so they can feel safe in the classroom.

While district leaders put new efforts in place to make that happen, some parents FOX8 spoke to plan to talk to their children about making better choices.

“Coming and being the parent face behind your child I think means a lot to the educators, the principal, everybody. I just think it makes a better environment all the way around,” said Shoaf.
Parent engagement is just one part of the district’s plan to stop violence within schools. They’re also expanding the school safety office, training staff on anti-bullying and offering incentives for staff to attend athletic events.