Dr. Raghbir Singh Bains : Drug trafficking and gang violence has created havoc in our society. Gangs attract people from all walks of life including socio-economic backgrounds, races and ethnic groups. People are threatened at their work places, homes, schools and colleges. These gangs vary in sizes, compositions, and structures. Some of the gangs collect millions of dollars every month through illegal drugs, trafficking weapons, operating prostitution rings, and selling stolen property. The innocent kids, in greed of gaining easy access to handsome amount of money, are allured towards gang life.As our kids grow up so do the numbers of gangs and their activities continue to spread all across the world. According to the US Bureau of Justice Assistance, America has become a society almost preoccupied with gangs—especially their relationship to drugs and violence. By the middle of 2003, the number of persons incarcerated in prisons and jails across the United States was 2,078,570. In addition, 4,073,987 persons were on probation and 774,588 were on parole at the end of 2003. Total estimated correctional population in 2006 was 7,211,400 (Bureau of Justice Statistics). According to the Department of Justice’s 2005 National Gang Threat Assessment, there were at least 21,500 gangs and more than 731,000 active gang members in US. However, recently the Governments of US, Canada and Mexico have taken strong steps to tighten the noose.
Unfortunately, drug users and gang members are getting younger and younger every year. They include not only boys but girls too. It may look unbelievable but according to a news report, “The third grade plotters—nine students between the ages of 8 and 10—were allegedly readying a revenge assault against a teacher in Georgia in 2008. The sophistication of the plan—with kid-assigned jobs of covering classroom windows and cleaning up after the attack—stunned even the police. The culprits ranged from peer pressure to parenting, with violent video games and television getting much of the blame. Kids naturally think now that the solution to everything is to shoot someone like they see on TV. Tell us what you think. Given the restrictions with the law, how do you make punishment for third graders fit the crime? How much responsibility do their parents bear? And what about the rest of us—should we also be accountable as members of society?”
Both parents working are a problem as daycares cannot adequately take the place of the parent. Ignorant of the consequences, father is working long hours to amass wealth and mother is slaving in the hotels and motels to open big accounts in the banks. Neglected kids day in and day out venture out with their friends to enjoy the cozy umbrella of drug dealers and gang recruiters. The kids are hypnotized in the name of their protection from bullies. It’s gang power. It’s the glamour of being a gangster. It’s earning respect. Easy money slips into pockets for enjoying midnight dancing parties.
Few days ago I was reading a story on internet. One high honored father from US opened his parenting mind saying, “When my kid turns seven years old, I’m going to take him to the jail in my hometown and let him get inside a cell and I’m going to shut the door and just let him sit there for awhile. When he realizes this is not what he wants I’ll let him get out and I will say to him, “If you stay away from drugs, away from guns, away from violence and away from gangs you will never see the inside of a jail cell again. I want him to feel the cold, damp lonely feeling of sitting in a jail cell first hand. I want him to know this is what he will get if he doesn’t do right. In other words, I want to scare my child straight. I want to take him to the bad part of town (in a police car, of course) and let him see first hand how people who do drugs live. I want him to know if he does drugs he will live like that too”. The goal of story telling is not to create an atmosphere of fear or just to lock the youth up, but it is moral voice of the community to challenge parents to find time to educate their kids in home conditions so that they stay away from drugs, gang hangouts and gang members.
Parental involvement and supervision in raising children is a key role to success. So spend time with your kids. Take them along for walk, sports, camps, seminars, workshops and spend time communicating with them at home. Track your child when he enters school, where he goes after school, what he does and who he hangs out with. If you get him a computer don’t let him keep it in his room. Put it in the open where you can keep an eye on what he’s doing on it. Please remember, the computer, although a great learning tool is also an enemy to your child. Every pervert in the world is online trying to target your child. Every hate group in the world has a website that’s attractive to your child and they will probably find it even as if they’re not looking for it. Your child can accidentally download pornographic films while surfacing to find something else. They can download violent video games. They can find drugs, guns and anything else for sale on the internet and become prey to spurious sellers.
We know, for example, there are kids who are eight or nine years old, who are involved in the business of gangs, who are carrying guns and transporting Meth or Cocaine to the notorious dealers. Your child will smoke out and drink up at friend’s birthday party when he is nine or ten. If you wait until your kids are 12 or 13 years old, you may have missed the boat by that time. And the next year he will barely escape a random drive-by shooting. You will repent to see your kid getting stabbed to death in a back alley fight. Such kid can be paralyzed from the waist down after a shootout with a rival gang. Now, at the age of fifteen, your kid once again will be looking forward to clubs and the glory days of summer brawls. Your kid will be skipping school, failing all his classes, fighting with his buddies, distributing drugs, recruiting classmates into gangs and getting kicked out of school. Such kids are normally ‘labeled’ as ‘behavioral problems’ or juvenile delinquents. They will be torn out morally, socially, culturally and financially. These children will someday be our youth whom we will depend on to nurture and defend our culture, society, heritage, families, our descendants, the environment, our country and this globe. Beware! As you sow, so shall you reap.
Youth are our tomorrow and we need to teach them early about life values. Research tells us that the preschool years are the critical time to teach children the fundamentals of social interaction and golden principles of life. Those who fail to learn these lessons early in life are more likely to run into serious trouble of social evils later. There are few community centers to deal with juvenile problems, but I don’t think, at this point, that families have gone out and actively tried to send the kids at risk into their programs. It’s a relationship we have to develop with these families and with these kids. Act now and act immediately.
It takes the whole village to raise a good child. Parents and community must educate children and let them know what’s right from wrong and to make them think. Kids need emotional support, parental guidance, someone’s love and friendly understanding. Protect kids from gang violence as they travel to and from school. Governments need to create awareness about dangers of gang life by targeting in three ways: intervention, prevention and treatment. Parents must keep in touch with their children for the first eighteen years of their lives. That’s the best advice I can give. If you can’t keep in touch with them, don’t expect good news from your kids or don’t shed crocodile tears thereafter for whole of your life. Prevention is better than cure. Gang members spend several days and weeks courting kids into the gang. Now it is responsibility of parents and community to court those kids away from the gang and offer them alternative resources to keep away from the menace. Let’s shut off the pipeline that delivers new kids into drugs and gangs. The sooner – the better.
(Dr Raghbir Singh Bains is a longtime volunteer, social activist and drug therapist)