“Ain’t No G Thing”

 Alarmingly, it seems I have a propensity for dorky titling of this article of the month space. Now that school is out and the weather is warming up, many of us turn to the great out doors to enjoy our area festivals, celebrations and the like. Also, historically there is a slight up tic in gang related activity, especially in the guise of graffiti. Gangs use graffiti to mark territory, call attention to themselves, their clique or even a fallen member, and to “call out” rival gang members or gangs. It is important that Morrow County continue to monitor graffiti and eradicate it as soon as is possible. If you notice graffiti please contact local law enforcement and make the report as to where it is. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “Research indicates that parents play a pivotal role in keeping young people out of gangs. Negative influences within the family-including domestic violence, child abuse, harsh or inconsistent parenting practices, and/or drug and alcohol abuse by family members-can increase the risk that a youth or child will join a gang.” Some behaviors and characteristics that could be signs of negative influence and change in your child or youth include the following: Withdrawing from family, declining school attendance or performance, an unusual desire for secrecy, increased confrontational behavior and a general disrespect for authority and/or parental figures, an unusual interest in one or two particular colors of clothing or a particular logo, interest in gang-influenced media (music, videos, movies etc), hand signals, gang writing (symbols, numbers), drastic changes in hair and or dress styles, suspected drug or alcohol use, non-accidental physical injuries (unexplained injuries received during a “beat in or courting in” ceremony). Although no single characteristic is generally enough to warrant concern, clearly a combination of several ought to get a parent concerned. Although most recruitment occurs between the ages of 12-15, there is growing evidence that kids even younger are being recruited and are at risk. Be diligent. What can parents do? Recognition is the first reality. Being oblivious or ignorant is unacceptable. Talk to your child or children about gangs and ways to avoid them. Many innocent people are caught up in gang violence who are otherwise non associates. Just because your child is not “in” a gang doesn’t mean they don’t run the risk of being impacted by gang violence. Be aware of your child’s friends, and associates. Have they changed? Can you recognize them all and call them by name? Do you know their family? Tell your children not to associate with any gang members or hang out where they tend to congregate. Even if you as a parent don’t know where that is, chances are pretty good your kid does. Talk with your children about ways to deal with peer pressure in general. Set firm limits with your children and teens. Kids do respond to clear messages and direction and most prefer structure. Be clear what consequences (personal, moral, family, etc…) may exist for your child or teens choices. Do NOT rescue them from the consequences of their decisions. Plan family time. An intact family unit along with all the traditions and activities that go with it, is the single biggest contributing factor in keeping your child out of gangs. After all, many kids join gangs to replace a dysfunctional or even abusive family unit. Above all mom and dad, if you have concerns, voice them. There is help. For more information on this topic feel free to call, click or stop by the Juvenile Department in Heppner or Boardman. Have a safe and enjoyable summer! -Tom

Comments are closed.