NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro-Nashville Public Schools found nearly twice the number of guns in the 2018-2019 school year than the year prior.
While the school district says it is working to find solutions, so are a group of Nashville teens.
The teens are part of the R.E.A.L. program through the Oasis Center, which stands for Reaching Excellence As Leaders.
Many of the youth in the program have had issues in the past, mostly connected to where they live – in neighborhoods with lots of gun violence.
“It’s definitely a whole different Nashville than it once was. So, if you see a friend get killed, in their mind they feel like I don’t want that to happen to me,” said Tay McGee, who is in charge of the R.E.A.L program.
According to McGee, problems in a child or teenager’s community can spill over into school. At times, youth will bring guns to school for protection.
The teens News 2 spoke to have seen guns in school before.
“People I knew that [brought] guns to school, they just [brought] them to show people,” said 20-year-old Eries Banks.
“Sometimes it’s peer pressure. It’s like they’re doing it to have clout,” said 17-year-old Lavelldo Washington. “They’re doing it to get noticed; they want to be known for something they are not.”
McGee says social media can also play a part.
“The ones who get good guns, they get more likes on social media. So, you want more likes? Better get a gun,” he told News 2.
Thirteen guns were found in Metro schools during the 2018-2019 school year. Seven guns were found in Metro schools the year prior. That’s more than the number of guns found in the Wilson, Rutherford, Williamson and Cheatham school districts over two years, combined.
McGee says that R.E.A.L and other programs are important to keep kids out of trouble.
“They’re not being exposed to a whole lot of things that’s showing them in a positive light. They need more people in a position to value them,” said McGee. “If we don’t start providing these things for these young people, I don’t see the outcome changing. I only see it getting worse.”
The teens agree and hope to be the change they wish to see.
“I feel like once you change yourself, and you change the people around you, and your surroundings, it’s kind of like a trickle effect,” said 16-year-old Josh Hawkins. “If you change yourself, and people see you doing good, then they’re going to want to do good. Then the people around see them doing good, and they’re going to want to do good, and I think that’s just how it starts.”
News 2 is digging deeper into evolving safety plans in school districts across Middle Tennessee.
We have special reports all day Thursday in every newscast that focuses on classroom safety, keeping buses and school zones safer, and new initiatives to crack down on inappropriate relationships between students and teachers.