Monday, January 12, 2009

GANGS - Maybe If We Ignore Them, They'll Go Away

Gangs – Maybe If We Ignore Them, They Will Go Away


Robert Stanford

Anytime, as so now, I write about gangs, I always feel as though I need to educate on at least three points:

1. Gangs are more serious than my readers realize.

2. What gangs are, their origins and/or our current generalizing justice system that seems, to me at least, to be the most contributing factor to the perpetuality of gangs and the impact they have on our community.

3. The signs that show that youth are at immediate risk either through their own parents, the peers of their routine environment or the media.

And there you have it, some universal truths. This time however, I would like to stray from these three points and consider a fourth point. And that would be a discussion about gang discussion.

Let us start by asking some questions:

Question # 1 - When and under what circumstance is it appropriate to ensure that those whom we come into contact with are fully aware of the first three points in general, without my biasness concerning the topic of gangs.

a. Gangs are serious than they realize.

b. The definition of a gang regardless of historical assumptions.

c. How to recognize signs (and other signs of gang activity).

Question #2 – When are some of the times it may not be appropriate to discuss gangs.

a. Gang victim funerals. I have been to many, but never have seen gangs discussed outside of eulogies.

b. When it could negatively affect the relationship with one who is rather defensive. Such as when parents are in denial. I have had more encounters of this type regarding gangs than any other. I believe that this would also apply to many in law enforcement and education.

Question #3 – When was the last time you attended a gang presentation of any type?

a. When have you last heard of one?

Question #4 – What would you do if your child joined a gang?

a. How would you intervene?

Question #5 – Kids love a gangster – how truly effective is an ex-gangster doing presentations for kids?

I am of the opinion that if the individual is remarkably contrasted by their “former” life that it could be lovely and effective for the youth.

And then again, I have never bothered to attend a presentation, much less accompanied by children to see Sir Chocolate’.

Question #6 – What are some of the most effective tools that we have to combat gangs today?

a. Education in the three basic principles of understanding gangs, specifically they are:

i. That gangs are more serious than one realizes.

ii. The definition of gangs.

iii. Gang warning signs (and other signs of gang activity).

Damn. Sorry about that.

b. Fortification and support of local law enforcement.

c. Opportunities for youth (outside the home)

i. Activity programs.

ii. Mentorships.

iii. Community acceptance and support.

iv. Heritage fulfillment (sense of belonging satisfied through healthy and positive means.

Recently, I have been disenchanted by what I see in my Modesto community. I am beginning to feel that the time must be neigh for me to attempt something – anything to bring a reminder to our elected officials that they must most certainly, remain mindful of the seriousness of gangs. Because, of course, gangs are more serious than they realize.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease right?

But why do I get the feeling that asking some straight questions in the hopes of some straight answers can be somewhat tenuous?

The upshot? There are things we need to combat gangs. The more we discuss gangs, the more likely we are to receive at least some of the things which we need to effectively defeat them.

When? That is up to us. It depends on a gang awareness program out of the blue. One of which would be the only attendance problem one in which there were too many in attendance.

A scene like that can usually only be brought about by two things. Tragedy or widespread awareness of three things regarding gangs.

1. Gangs are more serious than they realize.

2. They know what gangs are.

3. They don’t have to know the signs – that’s what the presentation is for.

Don’t just be about it, talk about it.

By committing to talk about gangs in whatever situations we find ourselves, will ensure that we can win this fight.

“But I am just one voice, “ you might say. “What significant impact can I make?”

To which I say, fear not, I am recruiting others to join you. Several thousand actually.

Gangs – it’s literally a matter of life and death. Join us, lift your voice and we will save lives.

If you are interested in attending or hosting gang presentation, please contact me via email at

Robert Stanford
Community AdvocateClick Here to Visit

Copyright 2009 Robert Stanford all rights reserved.