I recently read an article on a blog entitled 'Crime and Poverty' by Matthew Yglesias that discussed gang violence in Los Angeles. One of the main points made by Mr. Yglesias was that a better school system will not stop certain tactics used by gang members for recruitment. Building on this theme, I think that something besides 'more education' is needed in to significantly reduce the gang violence in LA. Sure, more education would possibly help but what about the educational opportunities that currently exist?
Are Gangs A Black Hole?
One commenter on Mr. Yglesias' blog made the following statement: 'gangs are a black hole that sucks everything around them in, but that those who are in them do so because they have no other options.' How accurate is this statement? Do all LA teens get sucked into gangs? Do local LA churches, social service agencies, the police, and recreation centers all get sucked into the gang's black hole? Are there really 'no options' for gang members?
Lots of Excuses
I am not trying to minimize what's going on in Los Angeles regarding gang violence but it seems to me that a lot of excuses and a lot of quitting are also taking place in the streets of LA. What's stopping the teens in LA from learning something of value in school? Doesn't anyone from LA ever graduate from high school and go to college? What are the gang members' parents doing to help change the current situation? Speaking of parents, don't the parents of gang members have some responsibility in the mess that has been created? For the sake of argument, even if the parents of most gang members are divorced or separated, does this mean that children of all broken homes are destined for failure?
Poor Coping Skills
It sounds like a lot of teens in LA have terrible coping skills and are also copping out big time. When facing adversity, some people gravitate toward the quick fix, the easy way out, and to the course of least resistance while others refuse to give in, focus on positive goals, and roll up their sleeves and get to work on something productive. LA's gang violence is a striking example of what happens when people fail to look to the legitimate and traditionally accepted vehicles for advancement and mobility and instead look at 'phony' and highly glorified 'options.' Indeed, when teens look to self-centered sports figures, gangster rappers, thugs, criminals, and drug dealers for 'guidance' that will be instrumental in their 'career decisions' instead of staying in school and actually learning a trade or a skill that will lead to an honest, fulfilling living, what kind of 'fallout' is to be expected? What kind of neighborhood will result?
Let's Muddy the Waters With Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
The aforementioned analysis of gang behavior was undertaken without bringing up another important consideration: until now, not one word has been mentioned about gang behavior and drug and alcohol abuse. Would it surprise anyone to learn that the teens who make up the LA gangs are heavily involved in alcohol abuse and drug addiction?
Gang violence is a complex phenomenon that needs to be addressed from a number of avenues. For instance, parents of gang members need to learn better parenting skills and gang members need to learn better coping skills. Gang members and their parents also need to quit making excuses and copping out and start taking responsibility for the deplorable living conditions they have created and perpetuated. In addition, gang members need to take advantage of the resources that are available at local social service agencies to help them rise above their violent lifestyles. Furthermore, gang members need career counseling so that they can learn something in school that is concrete, doable, financially rewarding, and worthy of their hope for a more productive and meaningful life after they graduate. And finally, to the extent that gang members abuse alcohol and/or drugs, they need professional help if they are to avoid a lifetime of unhealthy and destructive consequences.
About The Author
Denny Soinski, Ph.D, writes about alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction, alcohol testing, alcoholism, alcohol recovery, alcohol treatment, and alcohol rehab. For more information, please visit alcohol abuse info right away!
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