According to the U.S. Department of Justice's 2007 National Youth Gang Survey, rural gang problems increased 24 percent, leading to devastating changes communities faced. Protecting the families and community of South Lake Tahoe from the presence of gangs will be an act by all to achieve a united front against the destruction grangs carry along such as drugs, crime and often time prostitution.
"It's the money, cars, girls and respect," said one former gang member, shedding light into the reasons many kids find gangs to be interesting. What they do not know is the reality of the situation, the ability to see past today's choices and what the consequences will look like in the future. As a gang member you do not expect the future, "you just do what you need to today."
In a community regaining focus on families and the welfare of the community, gangs are particularly threatening to this new focus as gangs remain the primary distributors of drugs within the United States according to the 2008 National Youth Gang Survey. What does South Lake Tahoe have in its defense? Community. Gangs are typically constructed to provide neighborhood protection; kids join due to lack of family connection and communication and to be able to help make ends meet. The draw to protect and serve a family unit is admirable, yet the direction corrupts all sense of morality into devastating realities. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, most rural gangs are homegrown and not the result of social migration, meaning the community has the ability to make the largest impact on gang prevention.
Prevention starts at home with the family. Begin by talking with your family about the facts of gang life, such as the threat of violence and drugs. Encourage students to engage in extracurricular activities that promote peer relationships and positive self-esteem as well as encouraging the schools to host after-school programs that boost social skills and connect students with one another and role models, tutors and mentors. By engaging kids and community to be more socially active with one another, the promotion of strong community in South Lake Tahoe will acts as repellant against gang infestation.
- For more information, contact Tahoe Turning Point at 530-541-4594.