Community organizations ban together to tackle violence in Benton Harbor

The NAACP is one of several community organizations that are joining the effort to try to curb violence in the community of Benton Harbor, Mich.

The president of the NAACP in the Benton Harbor area, Rev. James Atterberry, said he believes the community needs to start with discipline in the schools in order to make an impact against community violence.

Several videos of teenagers fighting in the streets have been uploaded to YouTube in the past few months.

The reverend said they are forming committees to work with teens and want to reach out to existing organizations with programs that already exist to help teenagers deal with violent tendencies or other behavioral issues.

"We are looking at working with social services, child protective services and other organizations in working together and try to work with the parents that might be having problems with their children that doesn't seem to be conducive to learning," said Atterberry.

The reverend met with the Benton Harbor High School Superintendent and members of the school board last week to come up with ideas on how they can stop the fighting. He said one of the main issues they talked about was a need for the high school to move to a zero-tolerance policy.

"We've got to tighten our belts, because it looks like over the years, there's been a move to not be so tight on certain thingsto work with kids, work with them and not suspend them and be very lenient, and we see that's not working. It didn't work, and now we've got to go to a different strategy," said Atterberry.

Members of the NAACP will meet with other concerned residents again on Feb. 19 to talk about how to put ideas they have generated into action.

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