Curbing gang influence
“We need to look at every child as if he is ours, and do whatever we can. Whatever you can do to assist a child will reap dividends down the road – maybe not right now. We’re going to lose some children. But our goal is to lose as few as possible.”
-- Detective Elliott Hoskins
That quote from Detective Hoskins of the Durham Sheriff’s Office appeared in an article Tuesday about his role in trying to curb gang influence. Hoskins contends that we are going to lose a large portion of our children to gangs.
Durham residents, who seem to always be eager to help and lend a hand when there is a community issue, have struggled with how to address gangs and the problems associated with them. The ripple effects of its members are felt through the community with drugs and gang-related violence.
Hoskins says the typical gang member in Durham is 11 to 21 years old, and looking for a family dynamic or buying into the notion that it’s cool to live the outlaw life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers further insight, noting that youths join for myriad reasons, including the sense of support referenced by Hoskins, but also for money, peer status and a sense of protection.
One of the primary solutions isn’t complicated, but it does require personal investment of time and patience. Hoskins said the best action that residents can take to stem gang membership is to help a child. There are numerous mentoring opportunities available through the John Avery Boys & Girls Club, religious organizations, the Volunteer Center of Durham, athletics such as the Durham Eagles Pop Warner team and many other groups.
But the adults involved must be committed.
Children who are at risk of joining a gang need stability and continuity. They need to be the center of attention now and then. They also need to be exposed to a world beyond the horizons they now see. All of that that requires an adult to focus attention on an individual child; realistically, there likely will be some financial investment, too. Further, it would require setting aside time each week to see that child, who is, after all a child and as a result may not always be communicative, cheerful or well-mannered.
If you have a desire to have an impact on curbing gang activity in this community, or even if you just want to help a child explore his or her potential, please answer Detective Hoskins call and get involved. It can change the course of not just one life, but perhaps two.