Triad schools working on new approach to juvenile gun violence

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Triad schools are doing whatever they can to help curb juvenile violence.

In 2019, almost 400 violent crimes were committed by children under the age of 18. Those numbers are only from Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem and Asheboro.

Schools have begun to partner with law enforcement agencies over the past few months. They’re going directly into the classrooms to try and reach students before they make the wrong decisions.

Greensboro, for example, has five elementary schools where School Resource Officers come and talk with first and fifth graders.

Falkener Elementary, Brightwood Elementary, Pilot Elementary, Frazier Elementary and Sedgefield Elementary make up the group.

The program is called Students Overcoming Situations or S.O.S.

Jenny Caviness is the Director of Community Engagement for Greensboro and helps with the program.

She explained how it has been instrumental in connecting with students over the past two years since it was formed.

“Just getting the basic messaging out of conflict management, how to call 9-1-1, how to deal with bullying,” Caviness said.

SROs, on occasion, will go into the classrooms and talk with 6, 10 and 11-year-olds about respect, leadership roles in the community, stranger danger and why it’s important to stay out of trouble.

Caviness described how it’s opening up the greater conversations that parents can build on at home as well.

“Sometimes parents don’t know how to have some of those conversations," Caviness said.

She also explained that it is helping set them up for success in the future.

“Developing the ability to deal with these problems, problem-solving and conflict management. You’re setting yourself up later in life," Caviness said.

Luisa Reinoso has four grandchildren with GCS, and has a young grandson at Falkener Elementary who will begin to hear those conversations next year.

“Once you have a police officer talking about what really goes on’ll go through them," Reinoso said.

One thing Greensboro police have stressed is that what works well in one district may not work well in another.

In Davidson County, the focus is more in middle school where drug use has become the problem.

“We need some help for our junior high,” Sheriff Richie Simmons told FOX8 in August of 2019.

In September, the school district and the sheriff’s office partnered to create the Teenage Alcohol and Marijuana Education Program or T.A.M.E.

In Forsyth County, there are early discussions on what can be implemented in the district.

A proposal is being discussed to teach seventh graders ways to deal with raw emotion, stress management and the dangers of impulse behaviors.

Tonight the board will hear a proposal for what the curriculum could be for that.

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