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New Initiative Underway in Mississippi "Fight Crime:Invest in Kids"
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Dr. Willie Killins and George Patterson at Wingfield High School
Desare Frazier

 

"My name is Nicholas Jackson and welcome to the Wingfield Falcons Radio Show."

The 17-year old senior's radio style introduction to announce a new initiative, is one way Wingfield High is motivating students and keeping them in school. The project is called "Fight Crime and Invest in Kids." Law enforcement statewide is responsible for the effort, which is a national project. George Patterson is the Mississippi Programs Director.

"If you're suspending and expelling kids from school that means they are not in the safest environment possible." said Patterson.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that children ages 12 to 19 that are out of school are more likely to be involved in fights, carry weapons and engage in risky behaviors, including drug use. Wingfield Principal Dr. Willie Killins says this approach completely changes discipline and helps African American males, who are particularly at risk.

"Your first reaction being I want you suspended. Get out of my class. Well, what about how about we dig deeper. What's on your mind? How can I help you? How can we jump this hurtle together? It's a whole different type of language that you use. It's a whole different paradigm shift." said Killins.

The concept called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, provides behavioral rules with alternatives to suspensions and expulsions that foster pride. For example, two African American male students who faced suspension, instead volunteered to dress-up for school complete with bow ties.

"What a different feeling all of sudden when a student walks in they're looking good and everyone's saying, 'hey you look great!' Those little compliments add up to these young adults."

There are several other components including the Phoenix School for Leadership and Careers, which provides business classes, fosters entrepreneurship and personal development.