Organizations Dedicated Towards Gang Resistance
Gangs have quickly become a serious source of crime in the United States. The increase in gang activity from small suburban towns to large metropolis areas is staggering. Gangs usually consist of younger people who like to travel and do things in groups. They usually identify themselves by wearing certain colors, flashing certain "signs" at each other, or by using code language. Wars over territory are common among gangs, as well as drugs and violent crime. Gang initiation is not unlike hazing at a fraternity organization where people must do certain things in order to become a member and get accepted. The major difference, however, is that in order to be part of a gang one must usually commit a crime. Some gang members who want to leave find it very difficult to get out, mostly due to intimidation by the leader and other members. Over fifty percent of homicides in most major cities are a result of gang activity. About half of all gang members are Hispanic, while approximately thirty percent are African American, and seventeen percent are Caucasian. Most members are male, although there are some females who join certain gangs.
The National Gang Center
The National Gang Center was founded in October of 2009 with the merger of the National Youth Gang Center, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the National Gang Center, funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The organization's approach is that gang violence transcends all age groups. Thus, they have created a unified front where researchers, practitioners and the public can more efficiently access gang research, anti-gang programs, tools, databases and other resources necessary to fight and resist gang violence. With the help of the National Gang Center and their boundless data collected by the National Youth Gang Survey of 2,500 US law enforcement agencies, visitors can implement effective gang prevention, intervention and suppression.
Council for Unity
The Council for Unity is a non-profit organization that has been working to promote education and gang violence prevention for over thirty years when it was founded in 1975. The mission of Council for Unity is to provide young people with incentives, inspiration, and education about racial interaction within the inner cities and with each other. The organization wants kids of all ages and backgrounds to be able to work and play together without violence. The purpose is to empower kids so that they feel more self-confident and have a sense of individualism that will help prevent them from joining gangs. Over 100,000 people aged eight to twenty years old and from over 90 different ethnic backgrounds take part in the Council for Unity program each year. By partnering with community groups and businesses, the program is effective and is able to reach out to more kids who may be at risk.
Gang Reduction through Intervention, Prevention and Education, formerly known as Gripe, has recently been created by the East Coast Gang Investigators Association. The ECGIA, an organization with years of gang education experience under their belts, has realized that gang suppression is not enough and believe in a threefold effort including education, prevention and suppression. GRIPE focuses on young children as they are often recruited by gangs because gangs are aware of the difference in the the punishment of youths in the US criminal justice system and one of their main goals is to shut down a gang's recruitment base by providing children with the proper education necessary to avoid gang involvement. By sharing information and coordinating anti gang strategies throughout the Northeast, communities will be one step closer to eradicating the plight of gang violence among America's youth.
Similar to DARE, GREAT Is a school based program instructed by law enforcement officers. GREAT focuses on prevention as its primary objective and attempts to influence youth against delinquency, youth violence and most importantly, gang membership. With the partnership of community, parent, school and law enforcement agencies, the GREAT program consists of four components, a 13 session middle school curriculum, an elementary school curriculum, summer programs and family training programs. Great also offers five regional training centers where their lessons focus on providing life skills to students as well as encouraging positive problem solving in order to live a safe and successful life.
Many times, people who join gangs feel alone or have a sense of needing to belong. Often, they come from at-risk situations such as a divorced household, poverty, or just live in a neighborhood where crime is already rampant. There are many organizations dedicated to helping remove the gang activity from cities all over the United States. Many groups offer education, after school activities, sports, and mentorship programs designed to help steer kids away from gangs. It takes dedication and hard work to help change kid's lives, but there are many anti-gang groups available to help keep kids off the street, well-educated, and away from gangs so they can have a better life. While gang activity seems to be on the rise in many areas, there is still hope that thousands of kids can be transformed and live a productive and safe lifestyle.