Memphis community looks to focus on bullying prevention after shootings involving kids

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 3:53 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A child who is charged with shooting another child in Memphis this weekend said he was bullied before the shooting. Now, he’s charged with aggravated assault.

Tennessee State Representative Antonio Parkinson said that child could have easily been him after he was bullied in high school.

Parkinson said he brought a gun to school to deal with his bullies when he was 14, but before it ever got violent, he was arrested.

Parkinson said every child is born with good in their hearts, but impressionable children can absorb everything going on around them.

“Somewhere along those years of growing up, things change,” he said. “That norm changes. It shifts. That’s what’s happening to a lot of our children.”

Parkinson said he wants to mentor those children involved in some of the most recent gun violence.

In a police report, a juvenile told police he shot another juvenile this weekend in Frayser after being bullied.

About two weeks before that, a 13-year-old was charged with attempted first-degree murder for shooting a classmate at Cummings K-8. Court documents said the suspect said the two had been fighting in the days leading up to the shooting.

By choosing to bring a gun to school, Parkinson derailed his life. He lost his chances of becoming the second black quarterback in his high school’s history, he was expelled and arrested.

He spent a day in jail but knows if he had used the gun, his life would have been ruined and people could have died.

“I’m really thankful to the person who told the principals I had that gun,” Parkinson said.

“The message we’re trying to get across is take ownership of your schools. Let’s stand up to bullies,” said Deputy David Coleman with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Coleman is part of the sheriff’s office’s community support services. The team recently went to Cummings school to talk about bullying prevention and gun safety.

Coleman said when it comes to bullying, if you see something, tell an adult. He said kids can even do it anonymously if they’re afraid of looking like a tattletale. He recommends writing a note and putting it in the mailbox of an adult at school.

If you think gun violence is the answer, Coleman and other deputies try to relay to kids just how serious guns are.

“A lot of our kids watch video games and someone dies in a video game. Guess what, you can play again. In real life, you pick that gun up and harm someone, that person is not coming back.”

“Please don’t do that because all of us won’t be as lucky or blessed as I was,” Parkinson said. “A majority of us won’t. A majority of us will end up in prison.”

The sheriff’s office community support services are available to everyone and every group in the county. You can book the service by calling 901-222-5843.

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