NAACP Violence Prevention Program Announcement

Sateria Alexander, of Baton Rouge Community Street Teams, speaks at a press conference announcing a new violence-prevention initiative with Baton Rouge schools and several local community groups. 

School counseling and job training are front and center in the latest violence-prevention initiative unveiled in East Baton Rouge. 

In yet another year that's seen record murder rates in the city-parish, the partnership among the Baton Rouge Police Department, NAACP, YWCA and several other groups aims to reduce crime by providing high school students with job training, educational opportunities and counseling. 

As a community issue, crime takes community effort to solve, Baton Rouge police Chief Murphy Paul said Wednesday in announcing the initiative, which comes four months after the parish rolled out anti-violence “streets teams” to reach out to neighborhoods impacted by homicide. 

Education is also often a key determinant when it comes to reducing crime, YWCA Executive Dianna Payton said.

“Economic theory predicts a cause-and-effect relationship between education and job-training opportunities, and lower crime rates,” Payton said. “Through the numerous individuals who we serve throughout our community, YWCA knows first hand how lower levels of education can lead to lower wages and a cycle of crime.”

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The program is being piloted with ninth graders at Glen Oaks High School and has received positive feedback from parents and educators since it began earlier this year, East Baton Rouge Parish School System Superintendent Sito Narcisse said. 

As part of the effort, students are given more time with counselors and receive training in social-emotional learning, which Narcisse's spokesman Alex Stubbs said can help them regulate their emotions and mitigate trauma.

“All our kids throughout the city go through a different set of issues — violence, social-emotional issues,” Narcisse said. “What we’re trying to figure out is what are the (problems) kids are running into and what their gaps are so we can help them.”

Local leaders will officially launch the initiative with a Stop the Violence education rally at 2 p.m. Saturday at Scotlandville Plaza, which will feature a performance by local band N'Tune.

“I think we need to become much more of a preventative-approach city,” Narcisse added, “and that’s what this model does.”