Gangs

Revised October 2008 – Community Concerns

There is a serious gang problem in California involving students from all cultures, communities, and backgrounds.

  • Gangs are not just a law enforcement problem in urban settings but a quality of life problem and a challenge to the well-being, health, safety, social justice and educational outcomes for children and youth throughout California.
  • Gangs are not a recent phenomenon; there is a multi-generational pattern of gang membership and affiliation as well as “newcomer” membership. There also is an interstate/international aspect to many gangs, and the situation is at or near crisis level in many areas of the state.
  • Gangs adversely affect the well-being, health, safety, social justice, and educational outcomes for children and youth throughout California communities.

Children and youth who join gangs often become involved in drugs and other criminal activities. Law enforcement, school districts, PTA at all levels, other community agencies, and the general public must work together to inform and educate themselves and develop gang and drug awareness, prevention, and intervention programs. Such vital programs are needed to inform young people how to protect themselves from gang and drug involvement.

Role of the PTA

PTA believes that all children and youth should have the opportunity to develop their capabilities to the maximum. PTA supports programs that encourage youth and help them avoid gang participation and drug involvement.

Recommended Actions

Review California State PTA Position Statement, Gang Awareness. See “Gangs” in Advocacy Topic Index for related resolutions or guidelines.

Partner with school staff, parent/guardian, student, and community leaders and provide informational meetings about gangs and drugs.

Support the adoption and use of school district policies designed to protect children and youth who are threatened or harassed by gangs.

Support the adoption of school district policies that preclude the wearing of gang symbols, colors, and clothing.

Work with local business and corporate offices to educate and inform them about current gang trends.

Sponsor gang awareness, conflict resolution, anger management, and peer-to-peer mediation classes in the schools, with the approval and cooperation of the administration, faculty and the greater community.

Collaborate with local agencies regarding prompt graffiti abatement. Encourage community and youth involvement in these programs where safe and appropriate.

Promote the establishment of supervised quality, out-of-school programs for children and youth as an alternative to gang involvement.

Support community collaboration with law enforcement such as Neighborhood Watch, Retired Seniors Volunteer Patrol (RSVP), Citizen Police Academies, and community support teams.

The greater community must proactively work with parents and family members to break the pattern of gang membership and affiliation. Prevention/intervention programs must begin at the elementary grade levels.

Promote life skill training, conflict resolution training, cross-cultural understanding, and education on hate crime activities, among youth at risk of gang involvement.

Foster appreciation of cultural diversity through workshops, public meetings, and forums.

Additional Resources

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) (www.cdcr.ca.gov/DivisionsBoards/DJJ/index.html)

California Department of Transportation, Division of Maintenance Office of Roadside Maintenance, Sacramento, CA (www.dot.ca.gov)

GANGS, California Department of Education (www.cde.ca.gov)

Local law enforcement, school district, county office of education, government, city and district attorney’s offices and gang prevention and education task forces.

Office of the Attorney General Crime and Violence Prevention Center (www.caag.state.ca.us; www.safestate.org)

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org)

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