"I'm optimistic, but I'm realistic and it's going to take all of us to improve it."
Superintendent Randy Hodges with the Lauderdale County School District is talking about the growing problem in this area of youth committing crimes. He's says it's going to take more than just 'talk' to solve the problem; it's also going to take 'action'.
''I feel very strongly that the answer to a lot of the problems that we're seeing around us in regards to violence and crime is education," says Hodges. "I think it's the answer in so many ways with early childhood development,career and technology training and preparing young people for college."
Superintendent Hodges feels that stimulating students' interest in education can help deter them from bad behavior.
Meridian Public School Superintendent, Dr. Alvin Taylor agrees.
"We need to start focusing more on telling our kids what they can do with an education. How they can become an electrician or mechanical engineer or nurse," says Taylor.
Currently, the Meridian Public School District is doing this by implementing a college and career readiness component. Dr. Taylor says this more clearly helps students identify why an education is important, and specifically, how it can help them develop a career.
Also, the district is focusing more this year on rewarding students for good behavior. According to Dr. Taylor, this strategy is working.
"Across the board, discipline issues have decreased in our district in all areas. 95% of our kids are doing what they're supposed to do every single day. Unfortunately, it's always the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. Sometimes I think we need to focus on that 95% a little bit more and recognize that they're doing what they're supposed to do," says Taylor.
Character education and promoting mentorship are two top priorities for the Meridian Public School District this year. As for the Lauderdale County School District, three years ago it discontinued its Pre-K program. Superintendent Hodges hopes to have that reinstated soon.