Gang Violence in the United States
Gang violence in America is reaching alarming proportions. Chicago police Commander Donald Hilbring states, "Gangs are everywhere. All throughout the city of Chicago, the suburbs, throughout the state, throughout the nation." Chicago police state that so far this year, more than 100 gang-related murders have occurred.
Everyday an other report on the evening news relays the tragedy of a child accidently caught in gang crossfire. The image of black, inner-city teenagers selling "crack" on neighborhood street corners and shooting it out over drug "turf" comes to mind whenever we hear the story told. What can we do to understand and remedy this problem before an entire generation is lost?
We hear the stories about abused, abandoned children. We hear about drug-addicted mothers and absent fathers. We hear about children forced to fend for themselves in a cold, hard world. It's no wonder kids join gangs. They need someone to care. They are looking for a sense of belonging and family.
Yet, not all youngsters who join gangs are looking for a sense of belonging. Often, adult gang members lure teenagers into gang activity. They establish them as drug dealers, use them as car thieves, and often pay them to commit robberies and even shoot rival gang members. Adults use juveniles because the law does not prosecute them in the same manner as adults. Under the current system, the teenagers are back on the streets, and the adults are rarely caught.
Just as we assume we know the reasons kids join gangs, we also assume we know who joins gangs.
Gang violence is stereotypically thought of as a Black or Latino, inner-city problem. Dr. George Knox, an expert on gangs, says, "It's a myth that gangs are a race problem." The fact is, gangs are present in white, suburban and rural areas, as well as the cities. Gang violence is simply not limited to Black or Chicago youth. Suburban high school children are carrying guns and killing each other over gang rivalry also. In the Gary Post Tribune, Deborah Diddie reported on an incident in the quiet, white, middle-class town of Crown Point. Two adolescent boys tried to coax a 16 year old rival gang member from his home to shoot him in a nearby park.
As we can see, all children, black, white or brown, in the cities and the suburbs, are at risk for gang involvement. Solutions for stopping the spread of gangs and gang violence must be discovered.
Gang activity is present in every city and many suburbs in our country today. Parents and other community members must first acknowledge that gangs exist in their neighborhoods and then take action to keep their kids away from gangs. Recently, several Crown Point community groups, including the police department and the school corporation, sponsored a gang awareness meeting for parents and other adult members of the community. Guest speaker, Andy Rodriguez, a youth counselor at the ALSE...