01/22/07 — Nothing to ignore: Concerns over gang violence topic for county to consider

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Nothing to ignore: Concerns over gang violence topic for county to consider

Hearing that concerns over gangs are not uncommon in North Carolina or around the country, and that the problem is not as bad as it could be here, should be little comfort for those whose children just might encounter one of these thugs.

Law enforcement officials are working double-time to address the issue and to clean up the streets as quickly as they can, but keeping control of such a problem requires much more time and resources than they can realistically give.

The concerns over gang influence over teens and the crimes that result from that association are not new. This has been a dilemma for years — and one that law enforcement officials and others have been trying to warn communities about for at least that long.

There are many factors that push teens into gangs — self-esteem, poverty and dreams of being someone special — someone important.

Dealing with the problems in these children’s homes as well as quelling the ability of gang members to reach these teens are just a couple of ways to keep them out of trouble.

More resources devoted to education as well as enforcement would also help officers keep these criminals off the streets and away from the community’s young people — and help them teach teens that a choice to be part of a gang could destroy their lives.

And then there are the penalties. Stiffer sentences, tougher laws and more effective rehabilitation programs for youngsters who get caught in the gang lifestyle could make a big difference in how many more end up in prison.

But the first step — and the most important now — is to acknowledge that there is a problem and to address it. Then, we can go about solving it.

Published in Editorials on January 22, 2007 11:01 AM