Youth Safety – Youth Gangs
For teens, the reasons why they join gangs can be complex and vary from individual to individual. With every person joining for their own reason. While for some Gangs can provide a sense of belonging or security, a community for others, and then there is the possibility for access to drugs and alcohol and other illicit activities. Another driving force is that it simply is a means of making an income when they have few options available to them from bad personal decisions in their own education and work.
Risk Factors for Teens
- According to Public Safety Canada, negative life events like serious illness and relationship troubles
- Early problem behaviors like aggression
- Lack of supervision from parents or other adult figures
- Having negative influences in the youth’s life
- Being associated with or having an over-reliance on anti-social and delinquent peers
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Poor education or employment potential (which can be related)
- Listen to what your children say and what their concerns are…good communication will give them the confidence to talk to you about anything.
- Having a need for recognition and sense of belonging
Preventing Youth Involvement in Gangs
Since 2010, BC Lions has partnered with the province on a program called Lions Pride. Where the focus is to bring together players, schools and communities to mentor at-risk youth and keep them active and out of gangs.
- Other methods can be Youth Violence Prevention Programs, which can include the following:
- Mentoring and support
- Job training and resume work
- Recreational programming (i.e. getting involved in sports etc.)
- Education resources to help to further education
Another important element for gang prevention is the influence Parents have over their children and how effective that can be. By working together with their child Parents can successfully change attitudes in the community with the stigma surrounding it.
- Be involved with your children in healthy, creative activities like sports and community events
- Arrange for after school activities… children left alone may become involved in negative activities. Supervision at a young age is key
- Listen to what your children say and what their concerns are… good communication will give them the confidence to talk to you about anything
- Conflict resolution is a must and developing those good communication skills and interpersonal skills will be crucial in developing good conflict resolution
- Set clear limits that define what is safe and acceptable and what is not
- Providing tutoring or help with schoolwork and working alongside teachers and other parents in schools
While it is important to prevent youth from joining gangs, it is also equally important to change and affect the lives of those already affected by them. Reducing membership duration being a prime example. Offering drug treatment programs, employment and educational opportunities are some ways that you can achieve this.
Understanding why some young people join gangs while others do not is key for effective prevention efforts. It is important to address the specific risk factors that lead youth to violence and gangs. Also, equally important is to enhance the protective factors that can play a role in keeping youth out of gangs and providing the necessary resources for them when they are out.