Youth gangs are nothing new. Young people have always been know to form cliques. Today, gangs have become much more dangerous. Unfortunately, as gangs spread across the world, the damaging effects leak into our school systems. This can create an environment in which it is difficult to learn and dangerous to be in.
Gangs are known to prey upon those youths who have problems with their identity, self-confidence, or domestic life. Gangs respond to the needs and wants of kids which otherwise wouldn't be met. To be affiliated with gang means to belong to something or have some sort of identity. In turn, this may afford youths a sense of power and control, and gang activities may also become a way for youths to funnel their anger. As gangs enter our schools, so do many problems. In some instances, violence in the streets spills over into the schools. Gang members and non-gang members believe that they have to find a way to protect themselves and resort to carrying weapons. Drug trafficking also becomes more visible as gangs come into the school system. A survey done by the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that schools with gangs are more likely to have drugs on campus than those schools without gangs. A learning environment such as this is not acceptable.
There are several ways to combat the destructive effects of gangs in the home as well as the classroom. One way to do this is to create an alternative to joining a gang. You can get involved in after-school activities and week-end activities you enjoy. Some possibilities might be sports, something in the arts, or other positive groups and organizations. You might consider gathering together concerned members of the community to form a neighborhood watch. Work with police and other authoritarian agencies to report strange or suspicious activities, such as "tagging" (graffiti), "stacking" (gang hand signals), and gang colors.
Teachers and school administrators can also help fight against gangs and make their school a safer and better place to learn. One possible solution is for your school to develop programs to target students who would be vulnerable to gang recruitment. This can be achieved by setting up support groups, mentoring programs, tutoring and extra-curricular activities. Someone once said, "Idle hands are the devil's playground." If young people have a full schedule of activities, they probably won't have the time to be involved in gangs. Another suggestion might be to encourage your school administrators to offer programs to parents on how to deal with gangs. These programs might be offered in different languages so more people can be reached. A third possibility would be to educate students before hand on the destructive and negative effects of gang involvement.
Gang involvement can have far reaching effects on a young person's life. Some of the aforementioned suggestions may help keep you or one of your friends from becoming involved in something that, in retrospect, will probably have a negative influence on you.
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