FRAZIER: Unmasking the real culprits of our city’s crime surge, a candid opinion

Published 4:00 am Saturday, August 12, 2023

Don’t we all enjoy pontificating at times, sitting on our thrones from on high and pointing out the rights and wrongs from our pious position?

Having the opportunity to write opinion pieces has certainly paved the way for me to express my views over the years.

I recall the first time I wrote a column and how empowering it felt to offer my two cents for a printed publication. Sure, I could have presented my perspectives through social media, but I have preferred speaking with an editorial board by my side, one that gives gracious guidance.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

To me, social media can be a free-for-all where folks from all over can critique everything, blame anybody and point out and protest using no filter or feelings.

This has caused me to experience a cerebral strain because it’s hard sometimes to decide if I should add my thoughts or use restraint in responding.

Most of the time, I pull out the muzzle. But today, I choose not to suppress my opinion as it pertains to the increase in crime being the fault of Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Alderman Alex Monsour.

Yes, these two men sit in positions of leadership, but what is happening in our city is not just a policing problem. It is a social problem. Most of the violent crimes that have been reported are not always caused by unsavory adults; many times, the youth are pulling the trigger.

And for all the good that I wish it would do, I am not convinced programs dedicated to teens will help. I applaud those who are wanting to help young people, but teens are defiant by nature — you say up, they say down.

So, it would seem plausible that something to consider would be starting at an even younger age before those hormones kick in.

The United Way of West Central Mississippi and Excel By 5 have put in place educational opportunities for parents and children up to age 5, which is an awesome first start for children. But as a community, we need to brainstorm as to how to continue providing educational as well as physical activities for ages five and beyond.

Maybe this could also include a mental health component to guide young people who may not have support at home. Or even if they do have support at home, it could act as an added layer of resources.

According to the website, “A consensus of neuroscientists agree that brain development likely persists until at least the mid-20s.” And because the brain doesn’t develop until the mid-20s, the website went on to say, “someone who is 18 may make riskier decisions than someone in their mid-20s in part due to lack of experience, but primarily due to an underdeveloped brain… possibly until their 30s.”

This seems plausible and is a good reason why teens act before they think.

Because of their underdeveloped brains, these young people, unfortunately, do not have the wherewithal to understand the consequences. A teen shooting another teen just doesn’t make sense to a rational person.

With all this said, unless the mayor and aldermen can serve as a physical shield when a bullet is discharged, I do not think these two men can change what is going on. Obviously, they can lead in coming up with solutions, but this problem cannot be blamed solely on elected or appointed leaders.

I have always thought perhaps it is more of a “monkey see, monkey do” issue. When you have media that continuously shows footage of a violent incident, does it not, somehow glorify the perpetrator? And if a teen’s brain is not fully developed, could this not be misconstrued as a way of gaining attention?

Parents know a child will do anything for attention, even if it sometimes means getting in trouble.

It seems Vicksburg has a choice. We can support our leaders and those who are working to make our community safe, or we can try to thwart their efforts by shaming them.

In my opinion, I choose to support. And to also work alongside each other with all our resources at hand.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

email author More by Terri Cowart