Local News

Durham Teen Forum Focuses On Gang Activity

Posted July 19, 2005 5:39 a.m. EDT

— Town hall meetings are typically reserved for community leaders and older adults, but on Tuesday, Durham officials opened their doors for a new generation.

The appeal of gang life is not exactly clear to most adults, but some teens will tell you that is where they turn when there's nowhere else to go.

"It's like family. I mean everybody's there for each other and you don't worry about nobody messing with you," said 16-year-old Portia Cannady.

More than 100 middle and high school students voiced their concerns at a teen town hall meeting. The topic of gangs was on the top of many people's minds.

"It's a sign of status when you see people in gangs with their girlfriends. It's on TV and everywhere," Cannady said.

Numbers from the state Department of Juvenile Justice shows kids in Durham are about 10 times more likely to be in a gang than other kids across the state.

"We can see everything going on in the community and we can't see everything going on in the school system," said Deputy Tracey Meier of the Durham County Sheriff's Office.

Getting to the root of the problem is not easy. Some teens say there are ways to avoid the trouble. One option includes education and some self-motivation.

"If you push a teacher to help you, she will. If you don't, then she won't," said 15-year-old Andre Sanders.

Tuesday's town hall meeting was sponsored by the city of Durham. Organizers hope to have teen forums on a regular basis.