Bellingrath parent says issues inside Montgomery schools are 'cultural'

Bellingrath parent says issues inside Montgomery schools are 'cultural'

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Parents and members of the community are reacting after a shooting near a Montgomery middle school left a 14-year-old girl dead and a juvenile charged with her murder.

Jennifer Smith, whose daughter attends Bellingrath Middle School, says the issues don't reside within the school, the issues are cultural. Smith also says children today are facing different challenges from what their parents faced.

"What can you say?" Smith asked. "It leaves you speechless. No one wants to think that they have to bury their baby, junior high.  That's a hard pill to swallow."

"When we were coming up, we didn't have Facebook. We didn't have social media," Smith says. "Now everything is just so [fast paced] and our kids are living by what they see on TV,"

Smith says the youth need to understand what they see on TV is not reality.

"Guns kill…that little girl lost her life and no one knows why," Smith says. "No one has a child and wants their child to lose their life, especially over something senseless. You want to see your child grow, you know, see what you brought into this world, what beautiful thing your child can contribute,"

Smith says Monday could have turned differently for her family, the victim could have been her daughter, her nieces or nephews. She says she's talked to her daughter and explained the severity of the situation and urged her to pray.

"No one wants to think that they will have to bury their baby," Smith said. "That could have been any of our kids and it's still our baby because we are parents of this neighborhood and it takes all of us to parent these kids if we want our kids to be successful."

Smith says the shooting Monday has changed things for her family.

"I just pray that it doesn't take another tragedy before something is done or someone is concerned about this school. We may have a new building but we still have the same issues going on."

Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Allen said in a statement Monday, "This is such a tragedy. We offer sympathy and support to the family, and we pray that God will guide our community out of the troubling social ills that are hurting our children."

A prayer vigil was held Tuesday afternoon around 2:45 outside St. James Missionary Baptist Church No. 2, which is located next door to the school.

Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley says his department has identified five schools where they will add security.

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