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Violence Already Marring Detroit School Year

Guess I don't have a whole lot to say about yesterday's shooting near Detroit Mumford High School, except it was a horrific coda to a rough start to the school year in the Detroit Public Schools.

But I do wonder: How many more students are going to get shot before DPS administrators and the Detroit Police Department do more to ensure safe passage for these children? In the past few years, there has been a young man — Christopher Walker — killed outside Henry Ford High, children the shot at the bus stop near Cody and students hit by gunfire not far from Southeastern, Denby and Pershing. (More on See pictures of crime in Middle America)

And these are just the shootings. Who knows how many additional stabbings, assaults and robberies there've been as our kids have made their ways home?

I think Robert Bobb did a disservice by not paying more attention to early warnings from community leaders about the dangers of lumping so many children from rival neighborhoods into the same schools (though, to his credit, he seemed to have gotten the message when he decided against closing Kettering High and sending its students to rival neighborhoods around King and Southeastern). And I wonder how much the problems are eased by the presence of a new security company, Securitas, whose officers had only about a week of training before taking on the problems in Detroit high schools. (More on Read "Can Robert Bobb Fix Detroit's Public Schools?")

But with the school year off to such a tragic start, it's clear that more needs to be done to tamp down on the neighborhood conflicts that find their way into our schools. Perhaps this means a larger police presence in the backstreets after the final bell. Maybe this means stepped-up community policing on our blocks (not to be confused, of course, with indiscriminate Gang Squad strikes against entire neighborhoods).

Yeah, it's embarrassing when our administrators can't get Detroit schoolchildren to class on time on the first day. But we'll live. I don't think it's asking too much to be able to say the same thing for our children when they're on their way back home after the final bell.

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  • 1

    All of the policing in the world will not stop the people who want to harm others. Never has, never will. Police, administrators, etc. cannot follow every kid home until they are safe behind their doors. That was true when I went to DPS in the 70s, just as it is today.

    The culture has to change. Parents need to be better parents and not have kids they can't afford to raise to be responsible adults. Had I gone to DPS for high school, it would have been Mumford. Back in the early eighties, during the YBI days, these situations occurred. There were the same potential dangers on the way home from Mumford for my friends who attended there.

    Can more be done by DPS, and the police? Absolutely! However, they are just a part of the puzzle. It is not their sole responsibility. It is all of ours.

  • 2

    I agree, Kevin. Yet, a cultural shift takes time. Right here and right now we need to work on that long term solution while also working on the short term solutions - police the areas inside and outside of the schools, train staff to identify and report potential trouble makers, create an attendance policy that addresses truants who hang around and cause mayhem.

    This can be done. We have to correct our children, not fear them, or these cultural problems will escalate. Guaranteed.

  • 3

    The shooting was a tragic way to begin the school year, but laying the blame at the feet of DPS for something that happened after hours and off campus doesn't help the situation -- nor does confusing the issue.

    All the students involved in the shooting attended Mumford last year. This was not a case of violence stemming from combining student populations.

    The school is amply patrolled and monitored, which is likely why the incident did not take place on campus.
    As the previous commenters indicated, tragedies like this illustrate that the community at large has to take responsibility.

    Is anyone questioning the parents of the teenage suspects about why their children have firearms? Or don't know another way to resolve conflict than with violence?

    Have we really, as a society, come to the point where students shooting each other is accepted, while the school district is blamed for not patrolling property a block away to prevent such an incident -- while parents and the community are given a free pass?

  • 4

    Now is the time to create some solutions to this issue of violence around school venues instead of issue paralysis:

    Some ideas:

    Short Term:

    1. Incentify students within the school to provide intell on peers who have weapons and know when beatdowns will take place

    2. Incentify immediate areas around school venues by paying local teens and truants to stay around school property to reduce potential for incidents

    3. Engaged Non-Profits to partner with local seniors and church members to flood school areas during pre and post school times so that the physcial presence of elders is a deterent

    4. Create new conflict resolution programs designed by exconvicts and students with criminal records.They know how to defeat crime withing student populations..
    Long Term:

    1. Create rural dorms for removal of city students from local homes and neighborhoods during formative school years.

    2. Create passport programs where families outside the city are paid $$$ to house students during formative years of education

    3. Create paramilitary/peace corps to enroll middle school students and students with existing criminal records to remove them from the student body..

    To be continued....

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