(To fight gangs and their grip on our kids)
Today on our reservations and in our communities our people live in fear of the youth. Gangs and gang life have given us violent crime, drug dealing, and even prostitution of our kids. We have lost an entire generation of lost kids to gangs and the fast life they see in gangs.
When these kids aren’t getting the recognition for their school work at home we see their grades begin to fail, and when they don’t want to go home after school, whether it is because domestic violence or alcoholism in the home, they are out on our streets. In the streets is where they begin to see another life. They begin to see a level of camaraderie and family amongst the gangs, and the fast life that comes with it.
If they aren’t getting what they need at home and begin to wander out into these avenues of trouble with no one there to take a stand for them, we will lose them all. Our young warriors and mothers are being exploited by this and once they are sucked into it, there really is no intervention.
We as communities have to make a stand and show them we will not let them go and are here to pick up the slack and set up programs in prevention. Prevention is key in curbing the grip gangs can have on our youth. Programs such as after care and youth programs, designed in getting our kids to open up about problems at home and showing them they still have a family amongst their people, and a duty as young warriors not to be sucked up into the negativity and find something positive to contribute to the people.
Warriors are not people who exploit their own people and prey on the weak. Warriors are people who fight for the people, and are their to protect the weak. These programs are should be staffed with caring volunteers that are their when these kids can and will begin to trust and open up about their desires, fears, and problems in their life.
We need to focus on bridging the gap between our kids and our elders before all of our culture is lost. Weekly group sessions with the elders is what both need to feel like we are doing something as to not lose our stories and traditional ways.
Counseling professionals would gladly give up time to just come in and hang out with the youth once or even twice a week, not to single them out in counseling sessions but just to let the kids know we are taking steps to take a stand.
Our last stand against these gangs and them taking away our traditions and culture by exploiting our kids and the people is vital in the future of our people. It is simple to sit by and do nothing, and hope for intervention. But take it from someone who was an active gang member for over 15 years, once I was in the gangs and they had become my new family, not only could you not intervene, but to even try to do so was and attack on me and my family.
We have one chance to pick up where some of these kids families have left off, or fell off, and that time is now. I have a website where I answer questions about how to determine if your kid is turning towards being involved in gangs. I come to communities and tell my story, and work with police to read graffiti and help identify the severity of the gangs activity and power in the area. I take emails from parents and kids looking for answers, and also kids feeling like they need someone to relate to.
We’ve all heard they saying, “it’s takes a village to raise a child.” well now is the time to be the village, and show these kids they are not alone, we care, and will fight to protect them from the predators lurking out in these streets. Our last chance to take a stand for our people and our future comes closer with every child pulled into this lifestyle.
Gang Prevention Specialist