Tackling the problem of youth violence in our community

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Many questions remain about what happened at Cummings K-8 School Thursday.

How did a 13-year-old get a gun? What pushed him to use it against another student? How did he get away from the school only to turn himself into police later?

RELATED: MEMPHIS SCHOOL SHOOTING: Fight between teens led to Memphis school shooting, police report shows

And perhaps the biggest question of all: How do we tackle the problem of youth violence in our community.  

“The mayor, where you at? Davis, where are you?” Karen Spencer McGee asked Friday.

Thursday, a 13-year-old boy was shot by another child in a stairwell at Cummings School. The two agreed to meet to fight, according to a police report. A day has passed, and the city of Memphis is still waiting to hear from Mayor Jim Strickland and Police Chief CJ Davis.

“We need the same show in South Memphis as we get everywhere else,” said Spencer.

Following the shooting, Mayor Strickland released a statement that said in part, “The shooting at Cummings K-8 School is heart-wrenching. I’ve received updates throughout the day, and I’m hopeful the young man in the hospital will make a full recovery. Please pray for him and his family, and for all the students and their families who have experienced this horrific event.”

But some don’t think this statement is enough. And would like to see and hear from the mayor and police chief about getting guns off the streets and out of the hands of children.

“The more people we have solving this problem, the more we can get done,” said Pastor Lonzo Stevinson.

RELATED: Students return to Cummings School day after 13-year-old classmate shot

FOX13 asked Pastor Stevinson if city leaders are doing enough to solve this gun problem.

“From my personal opinion. No!” said Stevinson.

“South Memphis has been neglected for a very long time. If these children had been children of a different hue, we may have had pizza parties here, balloons, counselors the Saturday after for their healing process,” said McGee.

“We need to figure out why a 13-year-old comes to school with a gun to kill someone else,” said Linda Harris.

Community leaders from across Memphis also gathered in front of Cummings School in South Memphis Friday to discuss changes needed to make sure this never happens again.

“We also need to address the underlying causes and issues of violence in our community,” said Harris.

Something Knowledge Quest, a youth social services organization in South Memphis, has been working to do for more than two decades.

“We concentrate on academic achievement, character development, social-emotional literacy, and a lot of counseling and education around adverse childhood experiences,” said Jacquelyn Scruggs, Manager at Knowledge Quest.

Knowledge Quest serves 500 kids in out-of-school programming. It has adopted six Shelby County schools, including Cummings K-8 School.

“We talk about if I commit this behavior what will be the implications as a result,” said Scruggs.

PHOTOS: Boy shot at Memphis elementary school

Thursday’s shooting highlights the importance of programs like Knowledge Quest and their resources for students beyond simply talking.

“What we do is a bit beyond the discussion with the kids. We call in the entire family to meet with the clinical therapist,” said Scruggs.

The two students involved in the incident their lives are forever changed, but something to keep in mind is many students at the school may be traumatized from the incident.

Knowledge Quest can help your child navigate their feelings about Thursday’s incident. Here’s the link.