Kids & Parenting
The Gang Line Series Part Eleven
by Mike Ramey
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Tip From The Old School: If your child comes home with bruises, burn marks, new tattoos, or other marks on their body, call CPS! Gang initiations practiced on those under the age of sixteen may be regarded as child abuse--and should be investigated.
(LAST IN THE SERIES)
I’ve spent a bit more than a year writing about the ins and outs of Modern Street Gang issues (MSG) on the Internet in column form. Several major articles, a major interview and about a year’s worth of individual columns on the issue--with this being the last--puts the information into the hands of parents and others who have been searching for answers.
Therefore, it is fitting that this last column goes out to parents in order to--again--supply the answers that they are seeking.
In the first portion of my commentary, I explained how Modern Street Gangs (MSGs) have become an INTERNATIONAL phenomena. I hit upon the TRUE power that parents have over their teens and how such power could be used to bring their children out of the gang scene. I started to unfurl the Ramey Quick Seven tips for parents in order for them to check on their child’s interest and involvement in gang activity.
Make no mistake about these facts: First, ALL gang issues are LOCAL. IF parents are not stepping up to the plate in a particular city there is little that the police or a gang expert can do to break the cycle of crime, misery, and violence. Second, the authorities are going to do all they can to protect their budgets, and are NOT really going to provide information or intelligence to help the public until after a problem has started to sap THEIR resources. Amen?
True story. One night, I stopped by a local pizza place. On the wall above the cash register were nearly a dozen apartment complexes that were considered ‘off limits’ to drivers at all times, and one complex that drivers could ONLY deliver to during the daylight hours. In the complexes cited, delivery drivers for different pizza outfits had been roughed up, beaten up, had their money stolen, and a few were murdered…most of the perpetrators were tied to local gangs.
Think about this parents. When the prices of good and services start to go up because gang members--many of them local teens--have to commit a crime to get initiated, who REALLY pays the bill? Right! The entire portion of town where the criminal activity is taking place. If businesses continue to be victimized by the gangs, what will they do? Right! Close up shop and move to another, less crime-ridden location. This ALSO means longer trips to the mall, grocery store and drug store.
If one wants a selfish reason for parents to get involved in breaking the back on gang crimes, here is the best one: The small business that closes in your area because of gang crime today WILL NOT be there tomorrow when YOUR teen needs their first job.
#3--PARENTS NEED TO REGULARLY CHECK THEIR TEEN’S ROOM:
I’d like to say that this is the final in ‘The Gang Line’ Internet series on Modern Street Gangs. The intent was to cover the basics; to--again--put the tools in the hands of the parents. So, let us continue on down my ‘Quick Seven’ list for parents.
Point Three: Check your child’s room, early--and often.
You have NO idea as to what is really in there, nor as to whom has been asking your teen to ‘keep’ stuff for them. During probation sweeps I’ve been on, parents have looked truly shocked as to what probation and law enforcement offices ‘found’ in their teen’s room. Imagine what YOU could find on random checks of your OWN!
#4--PARENTS NEED TO CHECK THEIR TEEN’S LOCKER AT SCHOOL:
Nothing says ‘parental concern’ than mother or father or both visiting their teen’s school and requesting that school officials come along with them as their open their child’s locker. Lockers, to teens, are regarded as an ‘extension’ of their social life. Sometimes they serve as ‘drop zones’ for a group of friends--or the local gang. Many teens KNOW that adults and school officials rarely check lockers. Even with random drug sweeps, teens generally get ‘tipped off’ through the underground on a rough time table when the searches take place. Few teens will see it coming when mom or dad show up at school during office hours and ‘check out’ what has been going into the lockers…other than books. Don’t forget to talk to the school security personnel while you are there, too!
#5--PARENTS NEED TO MONITOR THEIR TEEN’S COMINGS AND GOINGS:
Once upon a time, our parents determined a time for the kids to be home. It was call ‘curfew’. Mom and Dad were serious about their children being at home at a specific time. If you weren’t at home on time--there were repercussions.
A legal curfew works in the same way.
In many states, if a teen is on probation or parole and is arrested for/cited for a curfew violation, this would be one of those possible ‘last straw’ situations that could have them heading back to lockup.
Parents, when a cop catches your teen out in violation of your local curfew ordinance and brings them home, PLEASE thank them! The police officer COULD have just arrested them and taken them to lockup. You see, unless the teen is out working or attending a church service, the likelihood of them doing the right thing after 9pm and before 3am on a school night is fairly low. Those are the hours of prime gang activity.
#6--PARENTS NEED TO MONITOR BRUISES/TATTOOS ON THEIR CHILD:
Whether you call them Child Protective Services (CPS) or Department of Child Services (DCS), there are a host of people who have been made legally liable IF they spot bruises, tattoos and scratches on your teen--even IF they are of high school age. By law, in most states, professionals from teachers to court officers HAVE to report to Child Welfare if bruises, scratches or welts appear on a child. My dear parent, you are with your teen more than they are. I have both heard of and seen parents ‘shocked’ when their little darling is sporting a tattoo or gang clothing or ‘flags & colors’ on their bodies.
It is STILL a criminal offense for an older teen to ‘beat’ on one who is younger than they. Thus, when youngsters want to be ‘beaten into’ the gang (and run the gauntlet of punches and kicks) they are often left bloody and bruised after the experience. Parent, you had best keep an eye on your child as to these physical issues. Someone else is already watching. Your inactivity opens up someone else’s RESPONSIBILITY. The LAST place you want to end up is in front of a Child Welfare worker who is ready to snatch your kids from you because you may be ‘abusive’. In reality, your teen may be on their way into the gang universe, and YOU will have to be the one who either takes the fall for their stupidity, or the blame for your inactivity.
7#--PARENTS NEED TO MONITOR THEIR TEEN’S CLOTHING CHOICES:
There are a variety of clothing choices for young people in the marketplace. Since advertisers COUNT on teens being able to tap their parent’s wallets and purses, it is up to the parents to KNOW not only what the popular styles are…but how they could be interpreted by society and gang members. I realize that parents may not want to read about this (as they are under enough pressure) but they need to be aware of what their children are wearing--or not wearing.
The teen of today is like the teen of yesterday; they know what is acceptable and what ‘may’ be dangerous in terms of clothing choices. If one wears too much ‘red’ or too much ‘blue’, or wears the wrong numeric combinations (as certain numbers represent certain gangs) they could be placing themselves in harm’s way at school and on the street.
It would take me far too long to cover the vastness of the clothing issue. However, there are great on line resources for parents to scan. The best ‘first’ place to start is to listen to your teen and find out if there are gangs active in your area. The next step is to be observant of what teens are wearing around your neighborhood and school and ask ones that you trust the ‘real deal’ on what the clothing means.
THE SERIES WRAP UP:
“The Gang Line” has laid out the basics on fighting gang activity. The secret weapon is parental involvement! Parents--along with some solid, biblical training and prayer--are still the best weapon in not only breaking up gangs, but stopping gangs from forming. As I wrap up this venture in contributing to the Internet knowledge and action base, I’d like to take the time to thank each of you for your emails. I’d also like to thank those who had the courage to run these columns, as these brave men and women have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they care for their families and communities from more than the ‘talking’ stage. I’ll be taking my leave now, and just want to say that God be with you…until we meet again.
MIKE RAMEY is a Street Gang Specialist, consultant, trainer 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 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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