Thursday, December 14, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Widespread support necessary to end community violence

There is no ready prescription to safeguard youth from violence and substance abuse. But a recent survey of teens in Hillsborough County shows what the public has long known: Schools cannot do it alone. Neighborhoods and community members of all socioeconomic backgrounds must step up and nurture youth, letting them know that adults care, are willing to stand up for them if they are violated, and will take them to task if they cross the line. These elements are essential to rebuilding communities in which youth often feel disconnected from their neighbors and lean heavily toward prescription drug and alcohol abuse, all triggers for violent behavior. Adult involvement matters, and the entire community must find ways to become engaged.

Nearly 2,000 Hillsborough County teens participated in the survey released earlier this week that was designed to assess their risk for violent behavior and their resilience to factors that might negatively influence them. The teens represented the district's 27 traditional high schools or were enrolled in adult education classes or participating in a court program. Those surveyed sounded off on everything from the presence of gangs in their neighborhoods — 100 percent of respondents said gangs existed in their communities — to safety, where more than 60 percent of students said they would go outside more if their neighborhood were safer. School safety provided one of the brightest spots in the survey, with 98 percent of teens saying they felt they belonged at their school.

The survey was commissioned by the Hillsborough County Violence Prevention Collaborative, a diverse group of politicians, lawyers and law enforcement officials that formed in 2013 following the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The collaborative aims to prevent violence from occurring in Hillsborough, and in a report released Monday the group suggested ways to combat violence. Their suggestions included strengthening families and communities by providing support in areas related to mental health, substance abuse and jobs. The group also wants to engage the broader community and to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods plagued by violence.

It is easy to view these kinds of findings as evidence of someone else's problems, with lofty goals that have little possibility of becoming reality. But if the community is to improve, all stakeholders, whether they have children or not, need to pitch in. The geographic diversity of teens polled in the survey showed that the issues this generation faces are not limited to a few problematic ZIP codes. Their concerns are widespread, and no neighborhood is exempt.

The collaborative's inaugural report contained good ideas and useful data. Its members should keep going and connect their vision with successful programs that are already operating in communities around the country. These are proactive steps that the entire community should encourage and support.

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Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17