Dublin: Community Protection Is A Key Goal Against Dangerous & Evil Gangs: Info

5 Sep

‘The role of prevention is important; schools are potentially the best community resource for the prevention of and early intervention into youth gang problems.

Facing the problem from the beginning might be the best weapon to stop the problem from spreading‘.

Criminal groups have been a part of history for thousands of years and their roots run deep into America’s past and culture.

Gangs are not a new phenomenon and neither are the problems associated with them.


However, they have never affected a greater portion of society as they do now.

The phenomenon of urban gangs is not confined to Bolivia, or America; it exists all over the world.

A gang can be defined as a resilient, mainly street based group of young people who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a notorious group and who engage in a range of criminal activity and violence.

They also have a territory, operate within a certain area, have some sort of gang structure and often fight with other gangs.

Let’s look at it in our local area.

Street gangs in Cochabamba have increased in terms of number and danger.

According to the “Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra el Crimen” (FELCC – Special Force for the Fight Against Crime), in the town of Cochabamba there are about 80 street gangs which are considered of high risk, since they lead criminal acts at gunpoint.

Young people are also fighting for territory and searching for easy money and popularity by punching, kicking and killing.

The streets are not very safe and local newspapers report daily with news about murders, thefts, and robberies.

Neighbourhood watch schemes;

Social intervention, especially youth community projects and work with street gangs;

Funding for social and economic programmes, such as special school and job


Gang infiltration, reduction and imprisonment;

Organised development strategy, such as police gangs (teams) and specialized release


Dangerous gangs act in Cochabamba, among them are the “Chip Toys”, “Chuquis”, “Vatos Locos”, “Los Rojos”, “Los Gigolos”, “Los ADX” and “Los Mentes Peligrosas”.

Most of them operate in the urban zone of Cochabamba, Sacaba, Cercado, Colcapirua, Tiquipaya, Quillacollo, Vinto and Sipe Sipe.

Psychologists and sociologists have often tried to explain the problem by blaming the parents. They also highlight the responsibility of the State because they are not getting to the root of the problem and dealing with it from there.

Rapid urban population change a break down in the community, increasing poverty, and the members of the gangs feeling alone are all factors that contribute to the youth gangs’ growth.

Most of the young people who make up the gangs do not count on the support of their parents. This can be because they are divorced or because they spend a lot of time working and cannot give their children the care they need.

Daily psychological and physical violence at home can also generate a vicious cycle of violent behaviour.

The breakdown of the family is one of the main reasons that the teenagers join gangs.

Young people enter gangs hoping it will help them end their problems.

They feel they are part of a team and they are wanted and/or needed in a gang and it gives them the sense of protection they lack at home.

Indeed, reasons for joining gangs include a need or wish for recognition, status, security, power, excitement, and a new experience.

Teenagers raised in poor conditions are particularly drawn to gangs.

Many of them view joining a gang as normal and respectable, even when the consequences are a series of immature and violent acts.

Joining a gang may make up part of an expected/customary process in certain communities when they appear to have values such as honour, loyalty, and alliance.

The gang is seen more as a family than a group of teenagers.

For some youth, joining a gang may be a rational choice where the reasons for joining are for security reasons or making money.

Besides, although being a member of a youth gang may not be widely acceptable, it may be traditional among certain inner-city families.

The extent to which some families favour or actively approve participation in the gang may be another factor, particularly if the teen or the gang contributes to the family financially.

As the threats posed by gangs extend to a greater number of cities and to smaller communities, the need for better community efforts to address emerging and ongoing gang problems increases.

The basic problem seems to be that society does not know how to confront and clear up this situation.

Gangs are a complicated problem and solutions are often difficult to find in the midst of popular myths and stereotypes.

Five basic strategies have been created to deal with youth gangs in the United States. They can be used and adapted to face the problem in other countries like Bolivia, even if some sort of change is used to match the specific Bolivian problems.

Most of the young people who make up the gangs do not count on the support of their parents.

These strategies are often mixed and have to be in order for them to be a success.

Police led reduction and development strategies are often the most popular.

This is due to several factors: the ineffectiveness of the neighbourhood watch and social intervention schemes at least involving the youth gang problems; the lack of measures that mainly target or change gang structures; the changing structure of a labour market that can no longer accept unskilled and uneducated older youth gang members; and the increase in the danger that of youth gangs pose and their complexity.

Youth gangs are increasingly viewed as dangerous and evil. Community protection has become a key goal.

Vigorous law enforcement is required.

Gang members, especially leaders and serious offenders, are arrested, prosecuted, and removed from the community to serve long prison sentences.

The role of prevention is important too, schools are potentially the best community resource for the prevention of and early intervention into youth gang problems.

Facing the problem from the beginning might be the best weapon to stop the problem from spreading.

Gangs and School Safety:

Gang issues are priority concerns for many urban, suburban, and rural school, law enforcement, and other youth-service professionals.

We continue to see an upswing in school and community-based gang activity in our work on school safety across the country.

School gang activity can escalate quickly. Educators need to understand school gang prevention and preparedness measures before a crisis hits.

National School Safety and Security Services has extensive experience with school gang issues.

Our president, Kenneth Trump, created and supervised one of the most successful school district youth gang units in the early 1990s which reduced school-related gang crimes and discipline incidents in the Cleveland City School District by 39% over three years.

Ken later served three years as assistant director of a federal-funded suburban anti-gang initiative to deal with emerging gangs in suburban schools and communities.

In mid-2006, Ken was appointed by the United States Attorney of the Northern District of Ohio to serve as a Steering Committee member for the Cleveland Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative, one of six model projects in the nation awarded by U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales.

Ken served as Chairman of the Prevention Committee and as a member of the Executive Committee for the initiative.

Defining Gangs

There is no universally accepted definition of a gang. Definitions continue to be debated by the nation’s most experienced and knowledgeable academicians who study gangs.

A youth gang can be considered as a collectivity of primarily adolescents and young adults who:

interact frequently

are frequently and deliberately involved in illegal activities

share a common collective identity

and typically adopt certain methods of identification and/or claim control over certain identifying factors.

The key factor rests with their collective frequent and deliberate involvement in illegal activities and/or violations of school policies and procedures.

The focus by school and law enforcement should be on the behaviour (misconduct and/or criminal) associated with gang-behaviour in schools.

Why Do Kids Join Gangs?

Factors motivating kids to join gangs vary individual to individual. A multitude of social and economic reasons can be involved.

Power, status, security, friendship, family substitute, economic profit, substance abuse influences, and numerous other factors can influence kids to join gangs.

Gang members also cross all socio-economic backgrounds and boundaries regardless of age, sex, race, economic status, and academic achievement.

Each case must be evaluated on an individual basis, thus the importance of knowing what to look for and how to intervene early before the problem becomes entrenched!

Gang versus Non-Gang Activity

Gang violence is different from non-gang violence in several ways:

Gang violence typically involves a larger number of individuals

Gang-related violence tends to be more retaliatory and escalates much more quickly than non-gang violence

Gang activity is usually more violent in nature and often involves a greater use of weapons.

School and public safety officials must look at gang activity differently and not as one-on-one, isolated incidents.

Otherwise, the problem can escalate so quickly that a school lunchroom fight between rival gang members will escalate into a potential drive-by shooting just hours later at school dismissal.

School officials must still discipline individual students involved in gang offences on a case-by-case basis based upon their individual actions in violating school rules, but educators must see the forest with the trees and recognize that these offences are interrelated and part of a broader pattern of gang-related misconduct and violence.

Recognizing Gangs

Typically, people look for graffiti or bandannas as the main indicators of a gang presence. However, gang indicators can be quite subtle, particularly as awareness increases among school officials, law enforcement, parents, and other adults.

Depending upon the specific gang activity in a specific given school or community, gang identifiers may include:


: Unusual signs, symbols, or writing on walls, notebooks, etc.”Colours”:

Obvious or subtle colours of clothing, a particular clothing brand, jewellery, or haircuts (But not necessarily the traditional perception of colours as only bandannas)Tattoos:

Symbols on arms, chest, or elsewhere on the body”Lit” (gang literature):

Gang signs, symbols, poems, prayers, procedures, etc. in notebooks or other documentsInitiations:

Suspicious bruises, wounds, or injuries resulting from a “jumping in” type initiationHand signs:

Unusual hand signals or handshakesBehaviour

: Sudden changes in behaviour or secret meetingsand many other methods.

One or several of these identifiers may indicate gang affiliation. It is important to remember, however, that identifiers help recognize gang affiliation, but a focus on behaviour is especially important.

Educators, law enforcement, parents, and other youth-service providers need regular training and updates to monitor the changing nature of gang identifiers and, most importantly, gang behaviour in their schools and communities.

Due to the ever-evolving nature of gang identifiers, and the increasingly common trend of gang members going “lower profile” with fewer visible signs of gang membership to avoid detection by authorities, the best training on gang identifiers is often provided by local law enforcement and other gang specialists who are familiar with the latest local trends.

Denial Versus Acknowledging Gangs

Gangs thrive on anonymity, denial, and lack of awareness by school personnel.

The gang member whose notebook graffiti goes unaddressed today may be involved in initiations, assaults, and drug sales in school in the near future.

The condition that makes the school environment most ripe for gang activity is denial.

The most common initial response to gangs in almost all communities and schools is denial because public officials are more focused on image concerns for their organizations while they should be focusing on dealing with the problem.

The longer they deny, the more entrenched the problem becomes and in the end, the worse their image will be.

Even when school and community officials come out of denial and acknowledge a gang presence, they tend to downplay it and do a “qualified admittance” of the problem.

They acknowledge it when they can’t deny it any longer, but even then they tend to downplay it and underestimate the extent of a problem.

They only people those who play this political game fool in the long run is themselves because the longer they deny and downplay the problem, the worse it becomes, and the bigger gang problem and image problem – they will face in the end.

The flip side of the issue is that we also do not want to overstate the problem in a school or community, put people in unnecessary fear, or give the gangs more credit and status than they want to claim for themselves.

The majority of kids in a given school are not in a gang and do not want gang activity in their schools.

The problem, though, is that a small number of gang members, along with their associates outside of the school, can account for a very significant amount of violence in a very short period of time if their activities go unaddressed.

School officials can prevent such occurrences – or at least reduce the risks and impact of those which do occur – by training their staff on gang identification, behaviour, prevention and intervention strategies, and related school security and emergency preparedness issues.

Managing and Preventing Gangs in Schools

School and community responses requires a balanced approach of prevention, intervention, and enforcement strategies.

Schools must work very closely with law enforcement to share information on gang activity since what happens in the community spills over into the schools and vice versa.

Practical steps schools can take include:

Communicate to staff, students, and parents that schools are neutral grounds and that gang, drug, and weapon activities will receive priority response

Apply discipline in a timely, firm, fair, and consistent manner

Institute student anti-gang education and prevention programs

Establish a mechanism for student conflict mediation

Train school personnel and parents in gang identification, intervention, and prevention techniques

Obtain input from youth on violence-related concerns and prevention strategies

Establish cooperative relationships and communication networks with parents, law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies, social services, and other community members.

Set up mechanisms and structures to promote information-sharing and coordination among agencies addressing youth, gangs, and related public safety efforts.

Gangs are a community problem, but schools are a part of that community and cannot operate in isolation while hoping that the gang members will drop their gang alliances and activities once they cross the schoolhouse door.

Gang Trends and Cycles

Gang activity in many (but not all) schools and communities seemed to hit a peak in the mid-90, levelling off and declining in the late 90’s in many areas.

Of course, there are exceptions to this and it is important to say that the specific trends vary community to community.

An upswing in school and community gang activity began appearing in many school communities around the 2003-2004 school year and today we currently see a clear upward trend in gang activity in many communities across the nation.

Unfortunately, many of the gang prevention, intervention, and enforcement efforts in place in communities back in the 1990s have been disbanded, dismantled, and dissolved due to a lack of funding and community support, so many communities are starting fresh in dealing with gang problems.

Gang activity tends to be cyclical. It goes up, hits a peak, dips, and then eventually comes back up again.

The problem is that when it dips, it always seems to come back up at a higher level of violence and severity than its last peak plateau.

Gang development is a process, not an event. Schools and communities do not simply wake up one morning and find that gangs suddenly appeared overnight.

Schools must work with parents, youth, criminal justice agencies, social service officials, businesses, and the broader community representatives.

The key rests with school and community officials quickly recognizing the presence of gang behaviours and activity in a timely manner to nip it in the bud before it becomes entrenched.

Follow These Links: For More Information On Gangs & School Gang Training

Gangs and School Safety

Gang issues are priority concerns for many urban … with emerging gangs in suburban schools and communities. … other community members. Set up mechanisms and structures …www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/gangs.html – Cached

emerging gang structures in urban community results – Show only emerging gang structures in urban communities

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