Because Wilmington’s recent spate of gun violence has residents from every walk of life concerned, City Councilman and UNCW political science professor Earl Sheridan corralled some university colleagues for a community panel event. WHQR’s Katie O’Reilly reports that Wednesday night’s discussion often landed on another local hot button: public education.
Professors lectured the standing-room-only crowd packing a UNCW auditorium about trends in gun control, media portrayal of violence, the influence of hip-hop culture and the mechanisms of gang hierarchy. But because Wilmington’s gangs largely attract middle school-aged boys, the discussion kept circling back to the need to instill a stronger sense of self-esteem and purpose at school—where young people are perhaps most influenced. This, Sheridan says, boils down to widespread willingness to address the social inequality that tends to leave at-risk kids alienated at school.
"This is a community problem. City Council’s not going to solve it itself, the police are not going to solve it by themselves, the county commissioners are not going to solve it by themselves. It’s a community issue; it’s a community problem, and we’re going to have to solve it as a community."
Sheridan says that while Wednesday night’s panel primarily explored the academic theories behind gun violence, an upcoming public meeting will call on community leaders to more specifically address youth violence in Wilmington.
***The next community gun violence meeting will take place downtown on December 2 from 5:30 to 7:00, at Cape Fear Community College's