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Wake Group: Admitting to Gangs Is First Step in Tackling Problem

Posted March 19, 2008

— The first step in fostering a regional collaborative effort to attack the growing problem of gangs is to admit there is a problem.

The second step is to focus on prevention instead of relying only law enforcement.

That was the message Wednesday of the Wake County Gang Prevention Partnership – a group of local leaders, law enforcement officers and other agencies aimed at preventing youth gang activity and violence.

"Small towns sometimes don't like to admit we have a gang problem or there's gangs," Zebulon Police Chief Tim Hayworth said.

Youth advocate Mary Jordan, however, says gangs are a serious problem all over the Triangle and all over North Carolina.

She believes there's an economic component to the denial.

"If there's a lot of emphasis placed on the fact that there's a gang problem in this area, there's going to be a mass exodus," she said. "People are going to leave."

That's why groups like the Wake County Gang Prevention Partnership are working to create awareness.

"Open your eyes to say there are gangs," the partnership's director, Shenekia Weeks, said. "Open your eyes to say that we are going to help our youth in any way that we can."

The partnership supports programs that keep young people out of gangs.

"Anytime you hear the word 'gang,' you're going to automatically get some emotion attached to that, and it's never positive," said Darryl Fisher, with the Wake County Public School System.

He said the school system is dealing with the issue in its middle and high schools and that denying the problem doesn't do anyone any good.

"If a kid is arrested for this, that's way too late," Fisher said. "So, on the school system side, our efforts have to really be toward prevention."

The partnership is working to have the month of May be recognized as "Youth Gang Awareness Prevention Month." So far, all 12 Wake County mayors and county commissioners have agreed. They are working to get Durham leaders on board as well.


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  • foetine Mar 20, 2008

    we won't have to worry about gangs in Raleigh once all those houses are torn down and McMansion take over that nasty section near Boylan Heights

  • NCMOMof3 Mar 20, 2008

    One of the ways to begin to stop gang activity is to stop supplying the gangs with what they need, and that is more members. Begin by stopping babies from being born into the sitatuations where induction into a gang is almost a given. Tie birth control to welfar checks. No depo shot, no welfare check. See how many of these single moms would stop having babies and FAST because it would no longer be lucrative and we wouldn't have as many children in single family homes with parents that aren't parenting them thereby making them ripe pickings for gangs. Make it a felony charge to be a member of a gang. Anytime someone is arrested for gang activity, pick up as many members of that gang and charge them all. One for all and all for one! Not a complete solution, but a beginning

  • VT1994Hokie Mar 20, 2008

    What I like about this topic is that the people that did write, wrote longer statements. This tells me that many of you are as concerned as me. Good job. I enjoyed reading all comments.

  • VT1994Hokie Mar 20, 2008

    Too many students in particular are intiminated and threatened to join a gang. Some get beat up if they don't join. Those out of school join because of the strong influence of some of the older thugs. They know that they can get some monies if they do what they are asked to do.

    When I called some of the parents to tell them that I was going to suspend their child about gang stuff--many could not believe it. They were shocked in many cases. I recall one student in particular was an Honor Roll student. But, I had to suspend him long-term for what he did.

    Community members and parents need to learn as much as you can to protect yourselves. It's going to continue to grow. These people are well organized to recruit more with every opportunity.

  • VT1994Hokie Mar 20, 2008

    As a former school administrator, I can tell you that gangs are in many schools. There are more than some school people will admit. Many of these students join a gang in middle school and especially high school. Many of these become high school drop-outs.

    While I was principal of one high school, we had at least three well organized gangs that I knew about. Too many parents don't even know about their child until it's too late. These kids will eventually get into trouble if school administrators and teachers pay close attention.

    Parents and community members need to learn about their culture. The signs are there if you read and study what they are. Various colors, symbols, scarfs, etc... I suspended as many as I could to get the school cleaned up. Too many teachers looked the other way. These kids will intiminate and scare these adults. Several teachers told me that they were scared too often, and moved on to another county.

  • wcnc Mar 20, 2008

    ""If a kid is arrested for this, that's way too late," Fisher said. "So, on the school system side, our efforts have to really be toward prevention."

    Umm, I thought the schools were in charge of academic education....so we're suppose to give them the job of gang prevention too!!??? This goes mostly back to BAD PARENTING, so let's target those people from the time their kids are born- teach them how to be decent parents..... ANd I need some of these people on this committee to GET INVOLVED in prevention other than a nice comfy meeting.....

    I'm too busy to help with it since I'm too busy raising my own children (well, I might add!!).

  • ncwebguy Mar 20, 2008

    Sneakers over telephone lines is a sign that drugs are available in the area, which is more often than not associated with gang activity. If you see any in your neighborhood, you can call Progress Energy and they'll have a truck out to take them down in a day or two.

    May is "gang awareness month" because that is when gangs do their recruiting! What else are kids going to do all summer with no adult supervision? Go to the library and read, or hang out at the neighborhood gang safe house that has big tvs and the latest video games, shiny new bicycles, and all the candy and snacks you care to eat? Gangs are more "family" than some kids' parents want to be. To paraphrase Don Corleone, gangs make kids an offer they can't refuse. YearRound schools could help. Gang prevention folks only want to get paid.

    Raleigh, Durham have gang units in their police force, but don't need advertise it, since that could compromise police operations. It has nothing to do with business recruitment.

  • fatbaknchowchow Mar 20, 2008

    Wake Group: Admitting to Gangs Is First Step in Tackling Problem

    They better sign up a few NFL defensive linemen then. The problem has been festering for years and it's about to bust wide open.

  • Mar 20, 2008

    I will attempt an analogy.

    Do we consider members of the KKK a gang and/or terrorist organization? Suppose in our neighborhoods the KKK hung around on the street corners wearing white robes. Suppose they were involved in illegal activities like selling drugs, shooting folks, and stealing. How would the decent folks in those neighborhoods react? The police can't do anything to them unless they witness the crime. There's nothing illegal about standing around wearing KKK colors. Would the citizens in ANY community stand for this? I think immediate action would be taken to run the KKK out of town.

    Why can't this be done with the gang problem? We don't need some "feel good group" sitting around trying to be politically correct, making PhD recomendations. We need action and we need action now.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Mar 20, 2008

    Did I just get zapped back to 1985?