HomeArkansas newsHigh school students lead the charge against violence in Pine Bluff

High school students lead the charge against violence in Pine Bluff

Pine Bluff, Arkansas – A new initiative is taking shape, spearheaded by the young minds of Pine Bluff High School in collaboration with the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. This groundbreaking task force is a first for the area, where students are taking an active role in creating tangible change within their community. The primary focus of this task force is to develop solutions and initiatives addressing critical issues such as bullying, violence, and promoting youth leadership.

Also read: UAMS receives major grant for enhancing school safety in Pine Bluff

Sophomore Ray’lei Reed from Pine Bluff High School articulates the urgency of this movement: “You can say it all you want, but there is a difference when you actually do something to make a change.” This sentiment resonates among her peers, reflecting a shared desire for proactive steps towards improvement. The students of Pine Bluff High School, having witnessed violence in their streets and bullying in their hallways, are now vocal advocates for change.

John Thompson, a senior at the school, sheds light on the underlying issues: “It’s no secret at Pine Bluff High School we do have quite a bit of violence, and it starts through social media, bullying attacks, gang violence, anything of that nature.” Reed, echoing Thompson’s concerns, expresses a longing for a significant transformation in Pine Bluff, which she perceives as one of the increasingly dangerous cities in Arkansas.

Reed’s motivation is deeply personal, fueled by a tragic family loss, “Desperation, especially when you know a person personally that has passed away to violence and gun violence itself. I have actually had an aunt pass away to violence.” This firsthand experience with the consequences of violence propels her determination to rewrite the narrative.

The partnership between Pine Bluff High School students, staff, and the Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission aims to find viable solutions to these pressing challenges. Social media is identified as a critical starting point for many of these issues. As Thompson notes, “Often times that’s where these things start.”

Assistant Superintendent Phillip Carlock of Pine Bluff School District emphasizes the importance of equipping students with the right tools: “We are hoping this group can lead the charge in that.” By moderating social media interactions and being the first to witness such incidents, students can play a pivotal role in curbing the spread of violence and bullying.

The task force, driven by the students’ commitment to addressing relevant topics in their school, fosters a sense of hope. Thompson describes this as ‘so much hope’, a sentiment that resonates with many students who believe in the power of a collective effort. They recognize that it takes a village to effect change and are enthusiastic about being part of a group of students dedicated to making a positive difference. This initiative not only addresses immediate concerns but also cultivates a generation of young leaders committed to shaping a safer, more supportive community.

Nathan Kim

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