After gunfire broke out at an Atlanta middle school last month, parents demanded answers about the safety of their children.
A 14-year-old teen was injured in that shooting at Price Middle School. He was treated and released from the hospital.
In the shooting's aftermath, school officials, juvenile authorities and community leaders quickly put the topic of deadly weapons in the hands of children on the front burner.
FOX 5's Morse Diggs met some young people who are not students at Price, but many who have backgrounds similar to those middle school students.
Deangelo had been labeled "at risk" by juvenile authorities, but the Crossroads Alternative School gave him a chance to take a different path in life. The school works to help troubled kids.
"Been getting in trouble since I started school, since about first grade," he said.
Deangelo, who has scars on his arm from a box cutter, says he never looks for a fight, but he insists he won't be disrespected and he takes steps to protect himself. He said he got arrested once for having drugs and weapons at school.
The school's director, Ed Morris, says that can't happen again.
Deonte Dorsey said he had his first brush with violence when he was 12. He said the violence occurred in on a street about a quarter-mile from the Georgia Dome.
He says he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"I saw them, then they start shooting some guns, and the boy ran by me, or whatever and was like, ‘help me.' Then police, or whatever, pulled up," said Dorsey. He said that with the boy bleeding and the gun on the ground, police asked if he had anything to do with it.
"I'm like, ‘no, it wasn't me,'" said Dorsey.
The youngsters said that they can sometimes find a gun by digging in trash cans.
On the block where Dionte grew up, he says gang bangers were all around him. He admits getting in trouble more than once, including a stint in the adult jail, but he says he never had a gun.
Bradley Boyd, Fulton County's chief juvenile judge, said that he believes movies and videos have been an influence on kids.
The judge said that he thinks zero-tolerance weapons policies at schools have contributed to a decline in weapons possession cases coming into his court.
The numbers show a high of 90 in 2008, all the way down to 45 last year. But those numbers only reflect the guns that were actually found.
The judge says when an older teen gets a gun, it's a tool for committing a crime. For younger kids, the motivation may be different.
"Often I would say simply curiosity or fascination," Bradley said.
The alternative school director wants his students to be fascinated with the idea of becoming productive adults equipped with an education.
Deante is now on a football team and is doing his school work.
Deangelo recognizes that his attention to his school work wavers, but he says he is determined to stay out of trouble.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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