Lessons in Violence

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, the number of girls 10 to 17 arrested for aggravated assault has doubled over the last 20 years.

It's a rising trend of girls getting violent.

Drugs, fighting, and weapons. It's all going on in your child's school.

Domonique Benn sat down with 5 girls that were sent to Alternative School.

They haven't been arrested, but they’ve had their lessons in violence.

Meet Angel, Shontae, Wylnetra, LaToya, and Synetra. These girls all have something in common.

They either have been or currently are in Alternative School for fighting.

Shontae says, "I was fighting my sister was fighting and my best friend was fighting one girl."

"I got into a situation with a little boy and I accidentally hit a teacher in the mouth," says LaToya.

Shontae was a student at Richmond Academy, and she says she was a straight "A" student.

But one fight cost her.

Synetra is Shontae's sister.

She says she was helping her sister in a fight, and that's the reason she is in alternative school.

She says now that she's had time to think, she may have reacted differently.

"It's not worth going to alternative school,” Synetra says. “It's not even worth it."

From the sound of it, girls seem to be beating girls up more.

In November 2005, 17-year-old Shaniece Scott was stabbed in the arm during a fight on her school bus.

Shaniece's mother Bernadette wonders how the student was able to have the steak knife throughout the school day and then take it on the bus.

"They're not using [the metal detectors], they're pushed to the side so what's the use of having them?” says Bernadette. “And at the beginning of school every student should go through the front door; that way they can see if they do have any weapons on them. But the kids go into the school any way they want to--through any door."

But these five girls say weapons in school are not uncommon.

"The incident that happened on the bus where the girl got stabbed, that was a big problem because I don't see how she got in the school with a steak knife," says LaToya.

Domonique asks, "What is happening that may make you feel unsafe?”

"Like she say, people bringing knives, blades, some people bringing guns to school," says Angel.

"Some females bring knives or blades, they get more rougher than boys do," says Synetra.

Shonate adds, "People can bring what they want to bring. It's different to walk through the metal detector, but you can say it's your belt buckle and it could be something else."

In another incident in November 2004, Sego Middle School student Tyeisha Mims fell out of the doors of her school bus while in the middle of a fight. The bus ran her over.

It's instances like this that these girls see often.

"For example, the fighting…if you want to walk away, but then your friend says ‘oh you gon’ let her punk you like that?’” Angel says.

"A girl don't like you or whatnot they'll say something and then you react to it and next thing you know, y'all fighting," says Synetra.

But most agree that their experience at Alternative School has taught them to make smarter choices.

"This was your first time in Alternative School?” Domonique asks.

“And my last," says Wylnetra.

Shontae adds, "Stay on the right path and don't hang with the wrong crowd, think for yourself."

It's a lesson learned the hard way for these five girls and the others at the alternative school.

And they credit principal Dr. Wayne Frazier for running a tight ship.

Angel, Shontae, Wylnetra, LaToya, and Synetra all agree they could have walked away from fights that landed them in Alternative School.

"Us being hard headed and not doing what we were supposed to do--all of us could have walked away from what we were doing and did the right thing," says Wylnetra.

This is the first time in alternative school for four of the girls, and they say they don't plan on coming back.

But they worry about being labeled.

"Do you think you are labeled being in alternative school?” Domonique asks the girls.

“Yes ma'am,” responded Synetra.

“Why so?”

“Like my sister said they see us as nothing but trouble, but it's nothing like that,” Synetra says. “I have a future just like any other person."

This is LaToya's third time in alternative school.

Two times for fighting, and now, for having 36 tardies.

"My first time I was labeled as nothing but trouble cause they looked at my record and says ‘she's over here for fighting’, ‘she got a background for fighting’," LaToya says.

Dr. Wayne Frazier is in charge of the alternative school. He's strict, but he guides the students into making smart choices.

"He's a good principal,” says Wylnetra. “I say he does a good job. He says he doesn’t look at us being bad, we just did something we had no business in and we have to do our punishment for it."

"He makes sure we learn,” adds Synetra.

"His goal is to get you out?” asks Domonique.

“Get us out,” says Synetra.

Angel adds, "He makes the alternative school so you don't want to come back no more."

Shontae says although she had straight A's before, going to alternative school has actually set her on the right path.

“It makes you think. The ones who take it seriously and want to get out of there, you can look at a lot of things and turn it around."

After talking with the girls it seems like they are on the right path.

Shontae Wright says she has already been accepted to Voorhees College.

Wylnetra spent 4 weeks at the alternative school and is now back in regular school.


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