As a Jacksonville juvenile lawyer, I have represented teenagers in criminal cases in Clay, St. Johns and Duval County. Some were facing misdemeanor charges. Some were facing felonies. Most of these children are good children that need help. The crime that they were accused of should not define them. Some were falsely accused. Others were overcharged. Some were dealing with a drug problem or had trouble at home. Others were dealing with peer pressure and just made bad choices. In general, teenagers and children are good, but what we read on the internet and in the paper shows a different image. We read about the Cristian Fernandez murder case in Jacksonville FL. On Memorial Day of 2013, several youths were involved in a brawl in Jacksonville Beach. Teenagers were arrested on Jacksonville juvenile criminal charges on Christmas Eve at the River City Marketplace (Read Fighting and Resisting Officer Charges in Jacksonville FL). Teenagers are being arrested for violent charges like assault and battery in Jacksonville. They are being arrested for stealing and being charged with theft in Jacksonville.
There are children in our community that are trying to make a difference. There are children that are fighting back against the violence. Last month, a large fight broke out at First Coast High School in Jacksonville. This video was all over the news, and shows “a crowd of teens attacking a student.” After this two teenagers decided to try to make a difference. Channel 4 News released this story:
“Nearly a month after the video of the schoolyard fight surfaced, two rising seniors reached out to Channel 4, explaining they’d had enough and wanted people to know that First Coast High’s image shouldn’t be what the fight video portrayed. Gabrielle Gibson and Bree Moore decided to take matters in their own hands and write letters to administrators, asking for help to create change for their school.”
The two teenagers refer to themselves as partners in crime. They sent letters to First Coast High administrators, but that did nothing to help their cause. They took it a step further and sent the letters “to Duval County Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti and members of the school board.” Moore stated, “Dr. Vitti and Becki Couch were actually very proud of us for reaching out and trying to initiate the change we wanted to see, instead of leaving it up to a higher power.”
Moore stated in her letter, “I’m ready to change First Coast. Whether I have 100 followers or I’m standing alone.” Her words did not fall on deaf ears. “School Board Chairwoman Becki Couch emailed Moore about her letter and wrote, ‘I am an alumni of First Coast High School and it pains me to think that it has earned a reputation of being unsafe. I appreciate your willingness to stand up for what you believe in.’”
Superintendent Vitti “put Moore and Gibson in touch with his staff to address the students’ issues.” Gibson has a strategy to help resolve this problem with students in the Jacksonville highschool. She stated, “I think it was really us realizing that it wasn’t really about rebuilding the top of the class, the seniors…. It’s really about giving that strong foundation to the freshman, so that when they rise up as seniors they have that strong foundation as well.” Gibson’s goal is to show that this is “not the generation of ignorance, or the generation of mediocrity or just getting by.”
By helping children become better students and giving them moral guidance, we will have less of them in Jacksonville juvenile criminal courtrooms. It is nice to see two teenagers trying to make a difference in their community. I commend their actions.