Ever since Bowie State University freshman Alexis Simpson, 19, of District Heights was charged with fatally stabbing her roommate during an alleged dispute over an iPod in September 2011, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said she has been unnerved.
She said it was that case, which is scheduled for trial Nov. 13, that drove her to create a new event she hopes to hold annually to foster better self-esteem and anger management in the lives of girls.
The state’s attorney’s office will hold the “Sisterhood Summit” on Sept. 29 at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, and will feature guest speakers and organizations with backgrounds in conflict resolution.
“While [Simpson] is innocent until proven guilty, just the fact that a woman is dead and another college student is in prison is just disturbing to me,” Alsobrooks said. “Today, there is a lack of ability to connect on a very basic level. They don’t have human interaction and they’ve diminished human contact, and it’s affecting the ability to resolve conflict.”
According to crime statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the number of assault cases among girls in the U.S. rose 24 percent while the number among boys declined 4.1 percent from 1996 to 2005. According to a U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study in 2009, one in four teenage girls have participated in a violent crime within the past year.
Judge Glenda Hatchett, a juvenile court judge and star of the nationally syndicated television show “Judge Hatchett,” will deliver a keynote speech to the more than 300 teens ages 13-18 expected to attend. As of Sept. 18, 175 teens had registered for the 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. summit.
Alsobrooks said unlike other summits for teen growth and wellness, this event will include partnering organizations from around the county such as Sisters for Sisters Inc., Big Brothers Big Sisters National Capital Area and the event’s largest sponsor, United Way, all of which will encourage attendees to join their mentorship programs and continually work on improving their character and personality. Alsobrooks said her goal is to reduce violence among teenage girls, and end the culture of disrespect and lack of emotional control.
“If we talk and go home, we fail,” Alsobrooks said. “This is more about following up with them. That’s the whole component for this.”
Sisters for Sisters Inc., a Lanham-based nonprofit organization, is dedicated to empowering women and girls in “their mind, body and spirit,” said Caroline Washington, the organization’s founder and executive director.
Washington said her nonprofit’s program, Daughters of Destiny, can be best described as being an “urban Girl Scouts.” The monthly mentoring workshops bring in professional trainers and experts to talk about relationships and thriving in today’s urban environment.
“Teen violence is a nationally growing issue,” she said. “They’re hurting, and we’re not listening to them. We’re not taking quality time with them. We’re not devoting an ear, and they don’t have positive role models.”
Bill Hanbury, president and CEO of United Way of the National Capital Area, a regional branch of the nonprofit that works to improve community issues such as education and health, said the organization continually hosts teen mentoring programs for life improvement and career preparedness, and is hoping to gain new participants from the summit.
“Particularly so among young women, violence and violent behavior really is on the rise, and there has to be a communitywide solution to solving some of these problems,” he said. “There are so many bad, miserable outcomes when we’re not preventing these kinds of behaviors.”
Alsobrooks also referenced a sentencing in August, when Bladensburg resident Tamara Jackson, 31, was convicted of orchestrating a chemical attack on her ex-boyfriend’s current girlfriend in March 2010. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
“There are tragic cases in circuit court on a consistent basis,” Alsobrooks said. “It’s a curious trend that woman are increasingly perpetrators of violence against other women.”
To register for the event at PGCC in Largo, contact Ola Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-952-5370.