Kids & Parenting
The Gang Line Series Part Ten
by Mike Ramey
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Tip From The Old School: Contact your local police department for information regarding their ‘ride along’ program. It will give you a ‘true view’ of what IS happening in your area! It will also give you a contact IF there is trouble later!
In the garden, God called out: “Adam, where art thou?”
In the homes of America--from the projects to the suburbs--God AND society are making a different type of call out: “O Parent, where art thou?”
I realize that there are those who may reaching for their phones attempting to call some protest group because I dared to bring ‘religion’ into the discussion of parental responsibility in combating Modern Street Gangs (MSGs). I’d like to say to those critics the following: Modern Street Gangs are using their own brand of ‘religion’ to expand their deception, and draw in more recruits, aka ‘disciples’. Faster than a cop can say ‘traffic ticket’, law enforcement and prison experts confess that the religion dynamic--that ‘First Amendment’ staple--is making it harder to monitor the true activities of Modern Street Gangs. In order to break up MSG activity at the root takes informed parental control, and a DECREASE of government interference.
You read me right…a DECREASE of government interference. If you understand that government has done more to harm this nation under the guise of 'knowing more' than her citizens, you understand my point.
Gangs are now an INTERNATIONAL phenomena, faster than you can say 'government bailout.' From Alaska to Atlanta to Australia, MSG crews are recruiting and expanding. My aim with these columns is to informing parents--be they single, two parent, or guardians--to encourage, uplift them AND remind them of the need for their DIRECT involvement. I also have a very simple piece of logic at work: even the most hardened of gang thugs has a parent/guardian in the mix of their lives and they will STILL listen to them, no matter how ‘tough’ the teen may try to carry themselves.
RAMEY’S ‘QUICK SEVEN’ FOR PARENTS:
Thus, for the remainder of this column, I’ll be spelling out my ‘Quick Seven’ tips for parents and guardians to ‘see’ if their son or daughter are actively involved in MSG activity. These tips will also determine how ‘close’ their child is to the ‘action’ on the streets, and whether or not their teen is ‘developing’ a taste for the ‘street life’.
Let me say upfront that rebellion is ‘normal’ for a teen. That sweet little face you saw in the crib at three to six months; the same son who wanted to play race cars with you at six years old; the same daughter who wanted to hug your knee when a stranger approached at seven years old WILL be the same child who wants to ignore you at fifteen.
Like Barney Fife said, you have to “Nip” it in the bud!
I developed these little items based upon spending some of my career as a Probation Officer with a local juvenile court. I was amazed that not only did my client know other clients coming in and out of court; the parents/guardians ALSO knew each other.
In fact, SOME families had been active in their local courts for YEARS.
A true way to test the length of time some family had been involved with a court: IF a family name were mentioned during staff meeting by junior staff, you would most likely get a weary: “Yeah, I had his mother, father, sister, or brother on my case load years ago.” From a Senior P.O.
#1--PARENTS NEED TO MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH OTHER PARENTS:
I’ll get some mail on this one, but I’ll risk it. A single parent; a guardian, or a two parent household has an EQUAL chance of success in keeping children in line as LONG as they are ‘pro-active’ rather than ‘re-active’.
In short, don’t be your child’s friend; be their PARENT! Put the FEAR of GOD into them EARLY and remind them FREQUENTLY that you are in CHARGE of your home, right down to the use of corporal punishment to reinforce that point. IF you are ‘of color’ like I am, you KNOW that talking and time outs are PC fairy tales. The backhand, the front hand, the ‘stare’ and the taking away of things are in the arsenal too!
Tip #1: Parents NEED to maintain contact with OTHER parents in the neighborhood and at school. Yes, parents may ‘see’ each other at church, or at the mall, or at the store…but parents need to do more than drive-by communication with other adults. Just because trouble doesn’t show up on the TV, or in Ebony, or in your local headlines does NOT mean its not brewing.
I found it simply amazing that parents/guardians and the teens who were ‘locked up’ at juvenile all KNEW each other. Yet, when the cops came for ‘their baby’ the fight was ON! Parents were shocked that the judge was serious when a warrant was issued for their child. Many of these same parents were also the ones on camera--crying--when their baby was gunned down in the street; an unwilling player in a ‘three bullet opera’.
Parents--IF your child is involved in gang activity, best take him/her to the police yourself. Always remember: the cops have a very liberal ‘pick up’ policy--and they can and WILL visit you if your child is in trouble.
#2--PARENTS NEED TO MONITOR THEIR TEENS’ ELECTRONIC CHOICES:
Cell phones, MP3 players, CD portables and video players are NOT a RIGHT! You, PARENT--in MOST cases--will be shelling out of YOUR pocket so your teen can look ‘cool’ and fit in. Sadly, all a teen has to do is mention the words “Well, everybody ELSE has one…” and the modern parent turns to jelly and caves in.
Those who created these toys KNOW this; so do gang members.
And…to be a ‘good’ gang member, juveniles have to have four things:
*A Cell Phone w/Text Messaging/Camera for instant and wide communication.
*An MP3/CD rig to listen to the favorite Rap/Hip Hop gang songs.
*A DVD Player to view the favorite movies of the gang.
*A PC/Laptop to maintain communication to gang’s web universe.
Now, parents--if you are giving them these things, without providing any monitoring of what they are ‘doing’ on them, you are asking for trouble. That present you buy for them and place under the tree in the old year, will possibly be their ticket to juvenile court in the new one. The FIRST place that there usually will be instances of gang membership and activity found by police is tied to those four electronic items I just mentioned.
Parents, gang membership is supported by keeping teens ‘off balance’ and mother and father in the dark. If your teen is spending four to six hours or more a day ‘plugged’ into their electronic universe and is listening to or watching the ‘thug buster’ of the week video again, and again, and again…they are conditioning themselves to either DO the act, or forget they have DONE the act. They are counting on you not knowing what your teen is listening to, because you are a parent, and not held to be ‘hip or with it’.
Want to throw your teen a curve? Pick one of THEIR favorite videos and have them SING it OUT LOUD and EXPLAIN the words. Better yet, have them sing their school fight song or the words of a church hymn.
Oh yes, it will get quite comical…especially AFTER they fail your test.
IF they pass (because a few will read this and brush up) create another test. This will mean that it will be time for them to go on an electronics ‘diet’ of sorts, as you start to confiscate their toys until their ‘minds’ get right with school and home. Yes, they will fuss! Expect It! Some may be so bold to try to break in and steal their stuff back! Keep it from them for a longer period of time, or PAWN it! Hold your ground and keep their stuff locked up in a secure location and without batteries until you see--and hear--them thinking right and acting right.
More to come in part two next month!
MIKE RAMEY is a Street Gang Specialist and Lead Instructor of THE GANG LINE, based in Indianapolis, Indiana. This column appears on fine websites around the world. If you have questions, comments, or would like to have him speak 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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