Positive male role models can reduce violence

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Let’s imagine Justice John Paul Stevens’ vision comes to pass and America institutes the largest gun buyback program ever. Grudgingly, law-abiding citizens turn in their guns to government agents and receive half of the gun’s value. Gun control proponents shout praises of “our schools and our streets are safe!”

A sigh of relief can be heard until you turn on the news and a headline flashes across the screen — “Dump truck plows into students at bus stop, driver takes his own life.”

You turn to another channel and it reads “Gun crime in Chicago, New York and D.C. remains on par with historical average.”

Finally you change the channel again and the headline flashes: “Unsurrendered gun used to commit another school shooting.”

I think we can all agree this would be tragic. Yet, with some of the proposed measures to increase school and community safety, we are not far from this becoming a national crisis. Furthermore, I would argue that we are attempting to treat the symptoms of destruction instead of its causes.

Upon examining scholarly data, research reveals that the driving factors of our gun crimes, especially in school and street scenarios, are not the availability of guns. Instead, young men without positive male role models become extremely violent. In the black community this is expressed in gang violence and in the white community it is expressed in suicide and mass shootings.

So what can our state do about it? First, we can increase the number of male teachers in the school system. For instance, South Carolina’s government created a program titled “Call me mister.” This program offers loan forgiveness if male minority teachers will serve in struggling schools. They assume that male teachers in poor-performing schools increase achievement, reduce discipline infractions and discourage male destruction while cultivating strong and healthy boys. This has been proven to be true.

Additionally, I believe we can reform our county and state jails to ensure our felons receive GED and vocational training so that upon release they have a fair shot at a new life.

Ken Fontenot


The writer is pastor of Bethel Baptist Church and an unaffiliated candidate for N.C. House District 24.