Fight-free in Suffolk

Published 11:08 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Months worth of email exchanges and background negotiations will begin to bear fruit tonight when the Suffolk School Board considers a resolution in support of the Community Action Coalition of Suffolk, a group of citizens that organized in response to the violent crime that has threatened, ensnared and even killed the youth of this city.

After the Aug. 1 shooting death of TyQuan Lewis, who would have been a senior at Lakeland High School this year, folks around Suffolk agreed that they’d had enough of violent crime and the danger it poses to their children. Scores of them gathered that month in a downtown Suffolk church sanctuary during an emotionally charged event in which they decided it was time to stop talking about the problem with violence and start doing something about it.

In the months since the Coalition was organized, members have been meeting with leaders of the Suffolk Public Schools system, looking for support for a “Be Fight Free” campaign. Tonight, the School Board is expected to lend its voice to that effort. In January, the whole thing will come together with a series of pep rallies in the city’s high schools, where students will join the chorus of voices raised against the tide of violence.

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Of course, tonight’s vote will do nothing directly to change a teenage culture that is all-too-accepting of violence as a solution to the most trivial of problems. But a show of support for the work of the Coalition is a simple and effective way for the School Board to prove that it shares the organization’s goal of a city free of teen violence. Furthermore, the school administration’s apparent willingness to work with the Coalition’s leaders on a continuing campaign against violence demonstrates that the system is not in denial regarding the destructive nature of portions of modern teenage culture.

Only a concerted effort to overcome the problems facing teens today will be effective. It’s gratifying to see that the school system desires to be a part of that effort.