"Young men ... you have value.
In July of 2007, Rev. Ora Stearns-Smith got the worst possible call a mother can received. Her son, Aric Jai-Shon Lexing, had become the victim of a teenage gang shooting, and had died from his injuries. Jai was not a gang member ... not then ...not ever. No, he was a young man who had said yes to someone he barely knew, who asked him for a ride home after a party. Apparently, the passenger was on a local gang's hit list. As Jai and his passenger pulled up and stopped the car, the shooting started and the gang got their target ... and took Jai's life as well. Ironically, Jai had just received his Masters in Criminal Justice just two months earlier in May, 2007, and was waiting to pursue a career in law enforcement. Sadly, the lives of everyone that Jai had touched would be changed forever.
Teenage gang-related statics are truly no more than best estimates. The obvious reasons are that it's not realistic to believe that people can go door-to-door and gather information any more than it is to think that there is an office where gangs and gang members go to register their activity.
According to one online statistical source and a 2009 estimate, there are approximately 24,500 gangs in the U.S, and one million gang members. It would be wonderful, since these are estimated numbers, if the statistics represented were overstated. My fear, however, is that they could actually be understated.
So, the obvious question is what should we, as a united front, do about this? We all do a lot of gasping, shaking our heads, and talking about it. But, what are we doing about it? And who is to blame for the increasing number of teenagers (and much younger) choosing gangs as their family. Is it the parents, the school system, movies, t.v, music, the lack of teenage role models (I mean the good kind), the law and lack of stricter penalties......or is it....etc...etc...and so on.
I don't pretend to have the answers. I am asking you. Who do you think is responsible for the increasing number of violent gangs in the U.S., and what do you think we should do about it?
I will take this a step further and ask you to join us next Thursday, January 28, 2010, at noon (12:00 pm EST) as we discuss this very topic in our segment of Teenage Gang Violence at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/threewisegirls. I encourage you to call in and talk with us at 1-347-994-3835. It's not an interview, it's a conversation, and I would like for you to be a part of it.
Just talking about the problem falls short of actually eliminating the problem. That will take action on everyone's part. But talking about it is a good beginning.