Gangs in schools can have a huge impact on students and their education. If gangs in schools are a large problem many kids may be afraid to attend school. Gangs can put a lot of fear into kids, causing lack of concentration in school because children hear all the bad events that gangs do, like killing and hurting people. In school, gang members intimidate other kids just because they are in a gang. This all came to me when I was reading "Youth gangs aren't just a big-city problem anymore." (Moriarty 13-16). While I was reading this article I began to think of my first two years in high school. I was at CDO High School in Oro Valley. Oro Valley is a small suburb outside of Tucson. At CDO there was a lot of problems with gangs. Little was done to stop these gangs from harassing and taunting other students. At CDO there were many times that the teacher would not stand up to the gangs, it was other students that did. One time my friend Adam saw a gangster picking on some little freshman. Well after looking around Adam noticed that no teachers were around to help the little guy out. Adam took it upon himself to help the freshman, so he went over and told the gang banger to stop. The gang member said,"No, why don't you make me." Adam, who happened to be about 6'3", 240 pounds, picked the gangster up and slammed him into the hall door breaking the glass with his head. The gangster calmly walked off threatening Adam. Adam ended up having to pay for the window, even though he wasn't the one causing the problem. What schools need to do is control the gang problem. I don't know all the answers to solving the gang problem, but I do have some ideas. At CDO, any item worn that was gang related had to be confiscated. Examples of these items are red or blue handkerchiefs, T-shirts or hats that had names of gangs or gangs members on them. This idea worked pretty well, except you would get those kids who would try to wear gang items anyway. The violators would then complain that school had no right to take stuff that was theirs.
At Cross Jr. High, my old middle school in Tucson, you can't even wear a baseball cap to school because they are so largely related to gangs. This is a good idea if gangs are a real big problem like at Cross. This idea can also cause problems because many kids, like me, wear hats and are not in gangs. In the article I read it gives a ten step plan for schools to follow if they want to be gang free. Step 1: Be honest, admit to potential problems in your school. Step 2: Get smart, school executives need to become aware of the myriad of gang symbols and paraphernalia. Step 3: Identify your schools leaders, and get them on your side. Step 4: Don't close your doors at 3:15. To address the needs of marginal students who might be vulernable to gangs, devise ways to keep kids in schools after hours. Step 5: Work with the police, it has several advantages. The police department has the latest up dates on gangs signs and symbols. Step 6: Involve transfer students, give new students activities and opportunities that will help them feel like they belong. Step 7: Educate your teaching staff, include latest gang activity in community. Step 8: Get parents on your side, parents support is critical to eliminating gang influence in schools. Step 9: Find role models, for example educators and law enforcement personnel. Step 10: Provide career counseling for marginal students. All students need to find school meaningful especially those vulnerable to gangs (Moriarty 15).
A problem with controlling the gangs is that many of the teachers and other faculty are scared of them, and they have reason to be. One time our football team was going to be playing Amphi at their field. The game almost got canceled because the Amphi coach stood up for one of his players against a local gang member. The gang member threatened the coach's life. Well the game was played anyway but the Amphi coach had to wear a bullet proof vest at the game, and bullet proof fiberglass was put up around the stadium.
I feel that people need to start standing up for themselves. Gangs are like bullies, when people start to stand up to them, then they will begin to realize that they can't control people so easily. I happen to know that this works because a friend of mine proved it to me. Dave was a big guy, about 6'2" 180 pounds, and was a senior. The next year he was going into the Marines. Well I don't know how the whole conflict with gang started but three gang members approached one day. After about 10 minutes of arguing one of the gang members pulled a knife and proceeded to threaten Dave. Well as soon as Dave saw the knife he didn't even give the gangster a chance to use it. With one swift punch to the nose the gang member with the knife was unconscious. Within 60 seconds the other two were also. The gang never bothered Dave again. All it is going to take is a little guts from people. "If we try and do anything they will kill us," people say. Well their killing us anyway so why don't we do something about it. What do we have to lose? It is up to us or the people who are paid (like the police) to do this start coming up with better ideas to stop it. Another that needs to be done is follow the 10 steps I listed above