Memphis City Schools says it's making strides against gang activity in its schools. District leaders say they've seen progress in the past several years that prove gang activity is dropping.
Ron Pope with Memphis City Schools says they suspended 12 Getwell Elementary students, after the students reportedly talked about possibly starting a gang. He calls it an isolated incident.
Pope works with the school system's gang intervention program. He says the 12 students received an overnight suspension, which means they didn't miss class time. In the past several years, pope says they've made positive efforts to combat gangs in schools.
Pope says over the years of the program the district has seen a 70% drop in gang activity.
Others in the community, like Joe Hunter, work to prevent gangs through a ministry at Second Presbyterian Church. The Knight Life Ministry shuttles hundreds of young boys every Friday night from the Sheffield-Getwell area, and brings them to church.
The former gang member says the key is establishing relationships.
While hunter says he's not surprised at the Getwell incident, Pope says they hope to soon expand their program to help prevent any others.
"Particularly elementary students," hunter says. "When they find out what the realities are, they typically straighten up and don't get involved in that kind of stuff."
As part of the overnight suspension for the Getwell Elementary students, parents were interviewed at the school.
If you're concerned about your child's gang involvement or someone else's, you can call the gang intervention and prevention office at 901-416-6295.
Hunter says kids from around the city are encouraged to join Knight Life, that number is 901-487-5252.