CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Clayton County Public Schools continued its conversations on violence while hearing from 9th graders during the virtual 2022 Share Our Voices Teen Summit.

A panel of teachers and community leaders, along with Author and Motivational Speaker Keith Brown, joined 9th graders for a discussion on ways to resolve conflict peacefully.

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“If someone doesn’t speak up, then who will, because there are a lot of people who are being quiet about certain situations,” said Makayla Hodges, one of the students.

“Some students would be hesitant to speak up, because they feel like they may become the target of bullying,” said Nicholas Johnson, another 9th grader.

Parents also weighed in. “Make sure your voice is heard, someone that you trust,  so that your concern can be addressed,” said Eddie Boyd, who attended the virtual summit with his daughter.

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Counseling Director Dr. Alicia Dunn says the pandemic has caused an increase in conflicts and fights, and the school system is combating the problem through student advocacy and empowerment. “What we want to do is encourage all students to understand the power of their voice, that what they have to say, how they feel, matters,” she said.

Older students like Alaija Jones, an 11th grader and member of the Walking In Authority Teen Council, are focused on setting an example for younger students. “One of the specific things that struck a chord with me was the social emotional aspect of learning to control your emotions,” Jones said, regarding the discussion topics. She added, “Once I graduate and I’m in college, I’m gonna need them to stand up and take this leadership role and set an example for the freshmen coming after them.”

“This is the beginning of what I will call peace in action. The students left feeling empowered and encouraged, like the leaders that they are,” said Dunn.

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Staff members say they’re turning the moment into a movement, as these vital conversations continue.