The longevity of gangs are unquestionable as long as we have oppression, struggling, strife and inequality just to name a few. However I do believe that we cannot just standby idly wishing for someone to do something. We have to be come active with helping out in our communities providing the necessary personnel to help stave-off gangs. Too many times have we pointed the fingers and said you help when it should be I'll help. How do you feel about this?
As in most cases involving forms of juvenile delinquency, the problem usually arises from weak or absent parenting. Eliminating gang membership has to start at home, and until parents take a more active interest in their children's outside activities, gangs will continue to grow. Obviously, single parent homes marred by divorce or adult absenteeism is a contributing factor, but the parent(s) must be the first to recognize the awful nature of gangs. I know it sounds like such a simple answer to a complex question, but I know my parents would never have allowed me to join a gang. They knew my whereabouts 24 hours per day and made sure that I stayed on the straight and narrow. Why is it so difficult for parents to act in such a manner today?
Volunteerism can be a vital cog in the wheel that helps youths and teens make better life choices and rise above environmental limitations such as neighborhoods, family dysfunction, ethnic expectations. In addition, philanthropic volunteerism with one's money can geometrically increase odds of success in correcting social problems. For example, one might generate the creation of scholarship funds contributed to by many subscribers that allow a motivated gang member to go to a different and better school or to live with a different and better family in a sort of USA version of a student exchange program.
I think the very mentality that social inequality and "oppression" is the reason for gang activity (almost using it as an excuse) is a huge part of the problem.
Yes. There will always be social inequality. Oppression, however, is a victim mentality, and as long as this mentality is enabled in our society, yes, we will always struggle with finding solutions to every kind of crime.
My thought is rather than fighting social inequality, or throwing money and effort at groups of people who are unwilling to help themselves, we should providing opportunities for kids to overcome their backgrounds and rid themselves of the victim mentality.
There are plenty of successful people who rose against unbeatable odds and chose better lives for themselves, despite their background and family situations. Perhaps we need to be capitalizing on what these people site as the methods for their success.
One of my students volunteers with a local theater group in a city that has had gang problems for many years. The idea is to get as many young people as possible involved as early as possible. Being in a theater group seems attractive to many young people; everyone gets to perform (act, sing, dance) and to work in other ways on the productions. Everyone has responsibilities and works on a project, yet the project is "fun." In a sense, this group functions as an alternate "gang." This program seems to be having some success, at least for many of the young folks involved; whether it is succeeding in measureable ways is something I'm unsure about.
Early and sustained intervention programs seem to have the most effect at my school. We can't change the poverty rate, no, but we can offer alternatives. Kids need a place to go after school where they aren't unsupervised and where it is safe. Our after school program is insanely popular - about 15% of the school is there every day it is open. Sports have the same effect, and if it's not mainstream sports, get an intramural supervisor to set up regular soccer or basketball tournaments and then recruit kids who aren't used to turning out and participating.
And zero tolerance when it comes to gangs, gang colors, gang activity and gang signs on campus. Make the school the one place in the city that is gang free or nearly so, and you've just helped every at risk kid. Just my two cents.
I agree with you, pohnpei397, that we really can't compete with the gang members when it comes to trying to be that support person for a student. We (as teachers) spend so little time with our students, especially in high school on block schedules. It is tough being a teenager. It is easy for us to tell them not to follow the crowd and to think for themselves, but they don't want to be isolated and left out. I can tell you from experience that so many of these kids are good kids and smart students. It is heart-breaking to see potential in them at school, yet know the dangers and difficulties they face. Accessteacher I am interested in your thoughts on what can be done at this point. I encourage my students to go away to college. The only solution I can think of, short term and immediate, is to get them away long enough for them to realize there are other options. Sadly these kids often lack the resources to attend schools out of town.
I agree that we cannot simply put things off on other people. If we see something in society that we do not like, it is up to us to be a catalyst for change. Each individual can make a difference. Perhaps if communities were closer, gangs would be less of a necessity. People tend to join gangs when they feel alone or powerless. If communities were more supportive, perhaps less young people would feel the need to join a gang. A close community would also make it difficult for a gang to thrive. Each community would rise up to dispel some of the criminal behavior we associate with gangs.
I agree, but we must recognise that challenging a social system that produces gangs will mean some serious soul searching. In particular, let us remember that youths join gangs for protection and to gain a sense of belonging that does not exist in their own lives. We need to ask ourselves some very hard questions about how our society has produced this situation and why it is that the only meaningful form of belonging that some young people can have is to join such a gang. This will force us to confront notions of inequality and how capitalism isn't necessarily the best system for our society. There are no easy answers.
For many of us, it would be very hard to do anything about gangs personally. For example, it is often said that gang members need someone like "big brother" type or a father figure they can hang out with and try to be like. For many of us, that sort of thing is completely impossible because the typical kid who gets into a gang wouldn't think we're cool or would figure that we didn't understand their lives because we come from much more privileged backgrounds. So, in that way, I think it would be very difficult for most of us to do the sort of things that would really help to reduce gang problems.