Teen attendance drops at 'gentlemen and not gangsters' class

G.a.n.g class at the Church at Mt. Carmel
Posted at 5:19 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 11:56:16-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Attendance is waning at an anti-crime class for teens at a local church.

G.a.n.g. classes are held at the Church at Mt. Carmel on Monroe Street in Buena Vista on Mondays and Wednesdays. It stands for 'gentlemen and not gangsters.'

"Nashville is a real funny beast because we have so many pop-up gangs, it’s not the gangs you normally hear about that’s from LA or Chicago," said Bishop Marcus Campbell, who has mentored at-risk youth in the class for 12 years. "One guy we were asking him what do you like to do? And he was like well I like to be with all my girlfriends… and we’re like come on dude," Campbell said.

For some, it's part of their probation while others are dropped off by concerned parents.

"It helps a lot of kids, I’ve had so many kids come back throughout the years to tell me, 'Hey I graduated from college. I went to the Navy or the Army, or I got a family, I got my own place,'" Campbell said.

Currently, he's worried because attendance is dropping off. Usually, they have 40 students in the class, but right now they have 15, so he’s reaching out to local schools.

However, the good news is fewer teens are getting into trouble. In 2021, more than 1,300 juveniles were arrested for serious crimes compared to more than 1,500 in 2020. The graph below excludes curfew and truancy arrests.

Juvenile arrests from 2013 to 2021 in Nashville
Juvenile arrests from 2013 to 2021 in Nashville. This excludes truancy and curfew arrests.

However, this early into 2022, Davidson County has seen an uptick with 56 juvenile arrests so far. During the same time period in 2021, there had been 39 juvenile arrests.

"Anything I can do to keep our community safe and keep our kids out of prison, I’m all for it," Campbell said.

He has a new gun surrender program with no questions asked.

"To help get these guns off the street, they can bring them here by the church, and I’ll put them in the gun case and call the police, and they’ll come pick them up," Campbell said.

Hopefully, by raising awareness, Bishop Campbell can help more teens stay out of trouble.

"And after completing the 12 weeks, we’ll buy the young men a suit, shirt, tie and belt for graduation. We’ll get the young ladies skirts with the suit coat and blouse."

For those who want to donate to the effort, you can send a check to the church's address at Fountain of Life Ministries at 1032 Monroe Street, Nashville, Tennessee 37208.