A few days ago, I wrote about free range children circling blocks in the fading summer sunlight. As much as I like the idea of kids enjoying their vacation evenings, I observed that we live in a tricky times. Let me add another note to my concerns.
Gang activity has become entrenched in various neighborhoods across the United States. In other areas, gangs are getting footholds and parents may not be aware of the risks these gangs pose.
This issue has zip code written all over it. My best advice would be to call local law enforcement and ask what gang activity has been taking place in your area. Even in rural areas, recruiting may be going on under parents’ noses. Both Lake and McHenry counties, for example, exemplify comfortable, collar counties outside Cook County and Chicago. Many suburbs in these counties have great schools and middle- to upper-middle class neighborhoods. Nevertheless, both counties are battling gang activity.
One other important note: While African-American and Hispanic males may predominate in gangs, white kids and girls also join gangs, especially in rural areas. The site http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/survey-analysis/demographics contains some membership breakdowns, such as the chart below:
In addition to talking to the local law, I also recommend a conversation with the kids.
“Are there any gangs in your school?” might be the first question.