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Education leaders say violent crimes in community highlight need to focus on student's well being

LAS VEGAS - Safety in schools remains a top priority for educators and the community. On Monday education leaders in the state gathered to highlight factors leading to violent crimes in this year's state of education in Nevada.

From a student shot and killed on a school campus to school police officer confiscating weapons, a number of violent crimes have taken place within the Clark County School District this academic school year.

Speakers at the education summit say these issues highlight the need to focus on students well being, as well as address the problem.

"Our kids are bringing street problems into our schools," said  Dr. Jesus Jara, superintendent of the Clark County School District.  "Right now when we survey our students, 20 percent of our kids today do not feel safe."

That was a disheartening statistic revealed at an education summit hosted Monday by Communities in Schools of Nevada. 

Communities in Schools of Nevada is an organization that builds relationships with at-risk students and empowers them to achieve success academically and in life.

According to speakers at the event, everything starts with making sure the student's mental health is intact. 

"The research suggests that before targeted violence like a school shooting ever happens, that there's been multiple opportunities to intervene," said Tiffany Tyler, the CEO of Communities Schools of Nevada.

"I think we do have to be more patient because of the circumstances that kids live in and I agree with Superintendent Jara; we have to both provide emotional support and academic support," said Dale Erquiaga, the CEO of Communities in Schools National.

Speakers said it's important to focus on character development and teaching students the necessary social skills to handle situations.

"Like so, how do I respond not only to peer pressure but how do I -- 1. develop or hold on to a reputation in the face of descent or challenge," asked Tyler.  "Those are real-life issues that even us as adults deal with."

Speakers highlight the importance of positive relationships.

"Children need to know that adults care about them," said Erquiaga.  "I guess a go-to answer to say is, 'you're coddling kids' and you can't love them across the finish line. Their world is very different. They are chased on social media, they can't put it down, just as you can't as an adult. It really is different for kids today."

But according to Dr. Jara, the problem begins with gun violence. 

"The gun violence in the streets is a community issue that's building into our schools," Dr. Jara said.

All speakers say safety in schools is a community issue.  The upcoming legislative session plans to focus more on school safety.

Some issues include funding to secure schools and how school police can receive more needed resources.


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