Youth violence growing concern

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - School and law enforcement officials are still sorting out the facts surrounding the injuries 13 year old Reaqaun Wimbush suffered after a volley ball game Monday night at his new school. But there's heightened concern about youth violence especially since the recent beating death of an honor student who tried to break up a fight in Chicago.

What can be done to teach youth how to be more compassionate and to resolve conflict without violence. It was a topic at the International Drug Free Youth conference where Columbine survivor Craig Scott told his story. His sister Rachel was the first of 13 people killed that horrible day in April 1999. "She was a very compassionate person who stepped out of her way and was kind to a lot of other people. From that she started a chain reaction of kindness."

He now tours the country helping to promote school safety. "I think one of the biggest issues that teens deal with today is being disconnected and I think that every shooter in every school shooting has always felt disconnected and isolated. But there's thousands and thousands of teenagers that feel that way because they lack true relationship and community in their life."

His answer to stopping the violence: "I focus on the answer which is compassion and kindness which I think are the antidotes to anger and hatred."

Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier agrees everyone needsto work together to reduce violence among young people. "I'm talking about the attitudes of retribution and injuring seriously someone. We have to break that cycle."

IDFY is a program aimed at promoting a drug free lifestyle among middle and high school students.

Neither police or school officials have released any findings from their investigation so far, but we will let you know when they do.

For more information on Craig Scott's message and what they call Rachel's challenge to youth click here.

Tailored for students in high school and middle school, the conference also featured breakout sessions on making the right decisions for life, healthy dating, the results of drinking and driving, cyber-bullying and on-line predators, healthy lifestyles, and bully prevention.

The IDFY conference is sponsored by the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney's Office , The Pathology Lab, Christus St. Patrick Hospital, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, Lake Charles Toyota, City of Lake Charles, Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach, Sheriff Tony Mancuso, and the Calcasieu Parish School Board. IDFY , stand for International Drug Free Youth and is open to middle and high school students throughout Calcasieu Parish.

To join, students agree to adopt a drug-free lifestyle and prove it by taking a voluntary zero tolerance drug test. To ensure a drug-free membership, students are selected at random for re-testing. IDFY promotes a drug-free lifestyle by offering incentive discounts at local businesses for members' commitment to remain drug-free.

The program is sponsored by Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier and is the only program of its kind in the State of Louisiana. There are currently more than 5,000 middle and high school students enrolled in IDFY, with over 200 local businesses participating as merchant sponsors. To register, Calcasieu Parish Students should contact their school counselors. Calcasieu home school students can contact Penny Haxthausen with Calcasieu Parish drug-free schools, 217-4170, ext. 2409.

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