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Violence is not the answer

From the Office of Sheriff R.A. Strickland, Colleton County Sheriff’s Office

The consequences of gangs and their burden on law enforcement and public health systems in our community are significant. Law Enforcement intervention alone is not enough to solve the gang problem in our area. Local gangs are continuously expanding and evolving and therefore, impose an immediate threat to communities nationwide, including ours. Gangs thrive on innocence and indifference; all while committing a disproportionate amount of violent crimes and offenses. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for American adolescents and young adults. The after-effects of gang violence are never-ending for the victim’s families and friends. Keeping gangs out of our community takes cooperation and willingness to say, “This will not happen here!” Gang violence also has additional negative impacts on the community such as; increased health care costs, decreased real estate values and disruptions in social services.
Recruitment for gangs occurs around the age when children will be entering middle school. Among the leading reasons given by kids involved with gangs, either as members or gang associates is a desire to be loved, accepted or part of a group. This is what gangs are known to promise when recruiting new members. Keep in mind, children who pretend to be gang members or associate with gang members are at equal or greater risk for becoming victims of violence as are those who are known, gang members. There are several warning signs that may indicate involvement with a gang. The sooner concerns are identified, the greater the chance for prevention of a child from joining a gang.
It’s going to take all of us working together as a whole on one mission to combat, reduce, and eliminate gang violence, gang crime, and gang warfare. Below are some measures that members of the community can take to guide children towards choosing the right path and making the right choices to help put an end to gang violence.
• Community awareness- All members of the community should be educated and aware of what gang activity looks like and what to do if they witness such activities. If you see something, say something! Call 911 immediately if you notice or suspect suspicious activity.
• Supervised activities- Give kids a place to go after school. Staff activities with responsible adults who work with kids on homework, in games, in arts and crafts, etc. Children tend to get in less trouble when there are adults around and watching.
• Resistance skills training- Teach children the skills they need to resist negative influences in their lives. Children need to be taught how to make good decisions and take responsibility for their behaviors.
• Community service programs- Get kids involved in giving back to the community. If they’re responsible for cleaning up, they will be less likely to mess them up later. Teach children the value of providing service to others and model your commitment to the neighborhood when they’re present.

Special to The Colletonian (3101 Posts)