Monday, March 1, 2010

Sue Scheff: Building a Strategy to Reduce Gangs in Florida

One of a parent's greatest fears is if their teen becomes a member of a gang, or is even considering it. Whether it is peer pressure or a feeling of low self worth, teens can be vulnerable if they are striving to "fit in" with what they consider a "cool group."

By joining a gang, teens have a social network already established for them with friends who are literally ready to die for them. This infrastructure can fill a void in a young person's life quickly and easily; however, it is in a negative way. The teenage years are a formative and difficult time for many people and joining a gang is a simple way to feel liked and popular. In dangerous neighborhoods, joining a gang can actually provide protection from other gangs, which is attractive for many people.

Florida Gang Reduction organization was formed to help reduce gangs in Florida. This Strategy outlines a comprehensive plan for communities to develop specific solutions to dramatically reduce gang membership and gang-related activities by:

  • Empowering youth to lead productive gang-free lives;
  • Improving law enforcement suppression efforts; and,
  • Addressing rehabilitation and re-entry issues.
The Strategy calls for the formation of seven Gang Reduction Task Forces throughout the state of Florida.

Research indicates that parents play a pivotal role in keeping young people out of gangs. Negative influences within the family-including domestic violence, child abuse, harsh or inconsistent parenting practices, and/or drug/alcohol abuse by family members-can increase the risk that a youth will join a gang.

Parents can protect their children from gang activity through taking positive actions, such as monitoring their children's activities, fostering close relationships with them, and using positive discipline strategies. However, parents often lack factual information about gangs. - Parents Guide to Gangs

Learn more about Hanging With the Wrong Crowd.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more on Examiner.

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