Youth Gang explosion warning:
Waking up slowly; this morning – a quick check of news and columns always my first stop for opinion is Dan Mariano's column – a warning on a new law that meant in the best of intentions could lead to a exposive growth in street gangs among the youth.
Those of us who went to school in Southern California in the mid to late 1980's saw this first hand. Laws meant to boost childwelfare led to an explosion in child and pre-teen recruitment
In that case Police noted a rise in recruitment among minors who violated the law in many cases kids as young as twelve or fourteen were 'packing heat' taking part in shootouts and being used as enforcers or sellers of drugs.
The gangs of course were mostly a urban problem at many times they were mere henchmen of older criminal syndicates. Up to today LA city and county in Southern California still has a raging gang problem.
While many of the street gangs of the 80's and 90's have been broken up and tough laws prevent groups of youths from even gathering in groups of more than six – never mind what the constitution says – about the right to peaceably assemble. The cops have a tough time – juvenile justice teams and special anti-gang units work tirelessly to stop the growth of new groups. Sports, Education programs, summer jobs, and day guild internships in trade courses all set up to keep the recruitment of the gang population as limited as possible,
If as Dan warns in his column the new decriminalizing of youth crime is done – the problem will not only be the use of kids in crime – but worse perhaps the use perhaps of children in other avenues of criminal activity – youth recruitment in rebel groups is a problem that UNESCO and UNCHR has also brought up in looking at the Philippines situation.
If indeed the new law- as well meaning as it is is set up – then there is little that can be done until people realize the danger wisely warned by Dan is clearly looked at- perhaps there is a need at provincial or metro wide level for centralized Juvenile crime detention facilities – or larger boys and girls towns to handle the expected rise in youth offenders.
There is no justification though for kids to be thrown in with adults in city jails – it is litteraly throwng lambs to wolves – having seen what jails are like up close on the police beat – I can only imagine what horrors those caught would go through.
Some sort of program could be put into place. Perhaps under the supervision of DSWD and groups like father Shay Cullen's PREDA program in Olongapo. On this the first day of school this year – it is a timely thought to consider.
I know also of mentoring programs in the Los Angeles area where former gang members have comer forward after spending time in Jail to advise and council other would be 'gangster' – there are many of thses groups also who could be tapped by DSWD and PNP to help design anti-gang programs and provide shelters and halfway detention facilities for those youth who might fall prey if the new law is enacted.
Sometimes the best of intentions do have the worst resuls is what history teaches us…