As fathers worldwide are celebrated, Jackson city leaders say a lack of father figures is contributing to youth violence

Published: Jun. 19, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - On Tuesday, the Jackson City Council will discuss an ordinance to hold parents accountable for their children’s actions.

It comes on the heels of Jackson police charging a 14 and 18-year-old with murder Saturday.

As fathers all over the world are celebrated, Jackson residents and city leaders like JPD Precinct 3 Commander Christian Vance say a lack of strong father figures in the community is contributing to this youth violence.

Vance spoke at Councilman Kenneth Stokes’ Father’s Day event Sunday after Stokes awarded him ‘Ward 3 Father of the Year.’

“It’s not enough to be a father to your child,” Vance said. “Every child that comes across my face, I have to love.”

While he wouldn’t speak specifically about Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks’ ordinance to hold Jackson parents accountable for their children’s gun crimes, Vance said it would make sense for the city to do things it has never done because the community is seeing things it has never seen in regards to violence.

“Whatever measure upholds the responsibility of the collective is the right measure. I really feel like if every decision we made had [our children] in mind, it would be impossible to make the wrong decision,” he said.

The proposed ordinance applies to parents and or guardians who knowingly provided, encouraged, or aided their minor in obtaining a handgun or illegal weapon.

Convicted parents could face up to $1,000 in fines and/or six months in jail.

It’s something mental health professional Dr. Timothy Norris said he wants to see passed.

“Today, our kids are dealing with a whole lot. They’re dealing with parents that are on drugs, and they’re dealing with violence in the communities,” Norris said.

Norris started a behavioral and counseling group last year in honor of his brother, who was murdered in Jackson.

He said about 95% of the kids who come into his office have no father.

That’s why he’d like to see the bad parents held accountable and the good ones get involved in the lives of more than just their own children.

Stokes said he plans to vote for Banks’ ordinance. The item is set for discussion Tuesday and could be up for a vote as soon as July.

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