Kids & Parenting
The Gang Line Series Part One
by Mike Ramey
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Tip From The Old School: Check your child’s locker AT SCHOOL! It will reveal some interesting items that never ‘seem’ to make it home--including gang clothing!
The gang issue has NEVER been about whether or not the general public knows about gangs. The public has ALWAYS known about them--right back to the Prohibition days. The public wants to know two things: A) What is government in its various guises and forms DOING with tax revenue given by its citizens to fight crime, and; B) When will government get out of the away and allow parents to deal with their OWN kids who may be encouraged, enticed, or extorted to join local gangs.
Let’s be honest. Gang-related matters have gone beyond the hood and moved into the suburbs, rural areas and criss-crossed the seven seas. London, Berlin, Paris, Sidney and Saudi Arabia EACH report problems with bangers INFLUENCED by rap music and training on “How To Be A Gang Member from the Internet.”
Many gangs EVEN have their own websites! Amen lights!
How close may gang issues be? Well, a few blocks from my home, a meeting building had been tagged with gang graffiti. The owners of the building had enough sense to cover the graffiti over with paint. It has not been tagged again--thus far!
This is also how close the battle rages. Members of the public in my city did not like the fact that some teens were flirting with gang activity, and took action. When the public is encouraged to get involved in the fight against modern street gangs (MSGs), the gangs LOSE. When the public is encouraged to be powerless, satisfied in their victimhood and let government take care of everything the gangs WIN. An ALERT parent or parents are the ENEMIES of street gangs. Any parent or parents who are more concerned about their ‘creature comforts’ are ALLIES of street gangs.
That’s the issue in a nutshell.
There are people in government, law enforcement, community services, the courts, social work, and academia who would rather let the public be uninformed about gangs so that they can continue to draw healthy grant paychecks to continue ‘research’. In reality, parents can break the grip of Modern Street Gangs (MSGs). However, it won’t come without struggle AND an admission that gangs are a problem, once again.
You won’t hear this from the cops, politicians or ‘gang experts’.
You WILL hear it in this column, in the months to come.
THE NEED FOR THIS COLUMN:
The purpose for my column is to separate fact from fiction about gang issues and the resulting hype. As a former award-winning broadcast and print reporter and columnist, a veteran substitute teacher and felony-level probation officer for a juvenile court, I’ve seen first hand what gangs can--and can not--do; how they have mutated over the years into MSGs, AND how political and law enforcement infighting has blocked efforts to inform the public as to the solutions to slow the spread of street gangs.
We’ve watched the floor show. Now, let’s work on the solutions.
As Lead Instructor of THE GANG LINE, I address the MSG issue from the additional vantage point of the spiritual dangers--something few gang specialists have tackled. I also serve as a Pastor of The Forward Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.
FROM THE FILES:
The FIRST thing one should remember; a gang-- ANY gang--is composed of individuals. The person who wants to disrupt a Modern Street Gang is going to have to do so by empowering the parents of the individuals IN the gang to get them out with as much determination as the leaders OF the gangs want new recruits. Government grants and studies do NOT impress gang members. Gangs have used prayer marches and prayer vigils as recruitment tools. Bangers are not scared of judges, politicians, reporters, cops, or socials workers. However, hit them with their OWN words and shine the spotlight of TRUTH on them through their parent or guardian, and it slows them to a crawl!
Here’s a personal illustration from my ‘high risk’ caseload when I was an Intensive Probation Officer. One late weekday afternoon, a family came in for their appointment. This particular session involved determining where my client would be going to school. His mother and brother had ‘decided’ that my client would be able to live with brother for the remainder of his probation. Older brother had to be asked some questions in order to determine if his home would meet the legal requirements (food, bills paid, how many responsible adults, etc).
During the interview, I noticed that brother had some animosity towards his mother to the point that I had to remind him that his mother was to be respected. He did not like being corrected. He provided me with a firm introduction to the No School crowd, beginning with his mantra of: “It is up to you to respect me!” I informed him that, 1.) I was just as Black as everybody else in the room, and; 2.) after about an hour of genteel Q and A, his verbal skills were no match for mine. “Brother,” I told him, “The day I can’t out-think a youngblood like you, is the day I need to find another job.” Older brother’s eyes were glowing with the heat of hatred, and the fact that he had been bested by someone he underestimated.
WELCOME TO THE ‘NO SCHOOL’ ZONE:
As we wrap up our first column, let me break down the matter of the ‘No School’ crowd, and provide some good news to those who work with troubled youth and their families. The ‘No School’ crowd is the latest incarnation of ‘Me, Myself, and I’ or ‘I did it MY way.’ In other words, some young people of today seem to think that if I yell loud enough and get ‘in your face’ enough, it will triumph over wisdom and experience.
Many of these angry, prideful, and materialistic teens seem to forget that there is a Payday coming for them in the realm of adulthood. Just a few years up the road; just a few more birthdays and they will no longer be ‘cute’. As one pastor I heard speak on the subject, just to paraphrase him: “Some of today’s teens are so ignorant, they couldn’t find a job during SLAVERY!!!”
No Schoolers come to admit their need for help and wanting out of the gang life very quickly after several things happen:
1. A family member is injured or killed due to gang violence.
2. The individual is made to realize that they have missed TOO much school.
3. There is NO place on a job application for ‘Thugg Skills’.
4. They hear that prison door slam and they have time to think about their crimes.
5. They hear through the grapevine that their ‘banger buddies’ sold them out!
No Schoolers may come from any race. They quickly whine about the faults of adults in authority WITHOUT admitting that they, too have their OWN share of faults. The trick is for the wise parent, church member, pastor, or community leader to become BOTH transparent AND reflective WITHOUT sacrificing AUTHORITY! The unified message that needs to be carried? IF you choose crime, the long term costs ALWAYS exceeds the short term rush!
MIKE RAMEY is a Street Gang Specialist, consultant, trainer and Lead Instructor of THE GANG LINE, based in Indianapolis, Indiana. If you have questions, comments, or would like to have him speak at your school, church or facility; OR train your group, ministry or agency on how to spot/stop gang activity, email RameysGangLine@yahoo.com ©2008 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications International.
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