I am in a community where gang violence has grown over the last couple of years. I am wondering if anyone knows of programs that they find especially effective to reach those involved in gangs or anything that the community can do differently. I know this is a wide question, but I am curious to hear what our community could do differently to help these troubled individuals.
British Columbia, Canada
I work in Edmonton for a gang diversion program called Pohna, feel free to contact me via email email@example.com or 780-451-7559 if you would like to discuss more.
In my opinion this is a very complex topic. I believe early intervention is the key to prevent gang violence. A lot of these individuals who join gangs generally come from poverty stricken areas and broken homes. These individuals are usually longing for acceptance. I believe if we put into effect programs where individuals go into elementary school and high school and teach the consequences and negatives of joining gangs then we could have a chance of prevented some gang violence. Also I believe the RCMP have put a program like this into effect and its apparently a good program. Also getting children/youth involved with community based programs, like big brothers or participating in local drop in centers is always a good idea as well.
There is a program in the Boston area "ROCA" who do some really good work with high risk youth. You might want to search them out on the web. They use relationship base model, stages of change and motivational interviewing. They have an interesting approach to working with their target population.
Try aggression replacement training
You might be interested in an article on preventing female gang involvement by Gretchen Snethen in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior 2010 issue 1
Look at Geoffrey Canada's project in Harlem Children's Zone.
Or the book Gang Intervention Handbook by Goldstein and Huff is a good resource for understanding and addressing gang affiliated and involved youth.
Midnight Basketball has some mixed outcomes.
I would recommend bringing all relevant service providers together and having some training done around gang intervention in your community. There would need to be some kind of follow-up where a commitment is made by each agency to work on this issue using the strategies learned, otherwise motivation and inspiration may be short-lived and people will just fall back into their regular routines. An approach that was recently tried in my area is having an interactive action-plan developed with everyone in the community, focusing on specific issues and brainstorming about effective ways of addressing them. The various strategies would be put together in a report and presented to all participants afterwards. You could also put together an action committee of various service providers that could meet afterwards (bi-weekly, monthly) to discuss what is working and what could be improved upon. I wish you all the best, it's a tough issue. Below are a few national organizations that offer this kind of training and an informative pdf publication with good information about youth gangs.
Mitch Bourbonniere, Wpg. Manitoba (firstname.lastname@example.org) Amazing, educated, front-line speaker who brings along a panel of former youth and adult gang members who share their stories. Lots to learn from these guys!
Ron "Cook" Barrett, Senior Gang Prevention Specialist www.nysgangprevention.com
I actually just did an essay on this topic, and there are programs available to youth who are in gangs or are at-risk of joining gangs. There are eight programs in British Columbia and they are: MOSAIC in partnership with the South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence, Surrey School District, Kamloops School District, Touchstone Family Association (Richmond), Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre Society, Abbotsford Community Services, Vancouver School District, Prince George in partnership with the Justice Education Society. However, they are only offered to communities that are at high risk of youth joining gangs and are already in them, and not all youth and communities are receiving this education which is very unfortunate. If I am correct, I believe the Surrey School District ‘program’ is only accessible online.
The community members can educate their children about the dangers of gangs, and by teaching them important life skills such as achieving success by legitimate means (careers) and to teach them conformity. Community members can also help by reaching out to youth that are at-risk or troubled and report crime as you see it.
This is a great document describing the gang issue in British Columbia and what is and what can be done.
I have been living amongst youth issues in my own apartment building... I live on the fourth floor and every Thursday, Friday, Saturday for the past four months they have parties, there was a four person brawl right outside my apartment door, damage to the inside of the elevator and the walls up and down the hall in varied places, last Saturday 1 a.m. I was woken up from a solid sleep because a young girl was trying to break into my apartment.
This is a "brand" new apartment community with three buildings: A, B, C and it was advertised as an "adult oriented" community that is why I moved in...
Apparently there is a group of young people classified as a "gang" that meets a mile down the road and police are actively attempting to keep the neighbourhood safe and at peace... Practicing Micro Skills and Empathic Understanding has its limits and becomes VERY difficult when inappropriate actions begin to intervene with your personal safety, health and well-being.. What other options are there? The police have limited resources, the community officials seem to have their hands tied, and at the moment all I can think about is moving away from Abbotsford!! BUT financially it is not an option.... There has to be more that can be done for these young people struggling with their own life issues - BUT - what AND how?
Hi there I just want to share my friend's story
I have a friend who was used in the Asian gang since he was 12 and got out when he turn 20. It was not easy for him to get out of the gang, but finally he did it. I asked him why he wanted out and he said, let’s say, I joined the gang with about a 100 kids and by the time he reached 17, about 80 % of his group died really young and he got really scared. The head of his gang was about 23 years old and he ran his gang and the members under him were all 12- 16 years old, the head of the gang give special permission to (kill somebody) to the younger kids because they could not be touched by the law. He started working with gangs (doing gang ministry), said, sometimes it got really scary because of the violence, but it kept him going, because these kids in the gang really do need somebody to listen to them and care for them.
As someone previously mentioned, early intervention is key. After school-programs need to focus on having the child come there after school and keep them occupied to keep them away from gangs. Schools and local community organizations need to set up workshops or dicussions for parents on how to be a positive influence in their child's life and how to help them keep away from gangs as well. Churches can be involved as well to help children be involved in other things.