Government Must Continue Supporting Anti-Gang Programs
In order to combat gangs on our streets, continued gang prevention funding from our federal and state governments is necessary.[IMGCAP(1)]If we want to reduce crime and prison costs and help young men and women stay off the streets, the government needs to continue investing in mentoring programs for youth and community-based conflict resolution programs for gang members entering the juvenile system. To eradicate the breeding ground of crime today, it is necessary to invest in gang prevention funding that will grant America’s children a second chance at life.Personal experience has shaped my perspective. As the co-founder of Peaceoholics, a nonprofit organization that provides prevention and intervention services and programs for at-risk youth and their families in the Washington, D.C., area, I am an insider acutely aware of the realities that our children face daily. For this reason, Peaceoholics is working to better understand problems such as violence in our schools and our community. Our goal is to develop solutions that will give our children an environment that is not only safe but conducive to learning.Our daily work with high-risk youth allows us to see the difference that an organization can make in children’s lives. In order to eradicate gang activity, steps need to be taken to curtail gang recruitment, which typically occurs at an early age. If we can get to our children before the gangs, we can eliminate the problem. Additionally, significant efforts must be made to utilize culturally competent agents to ensure that gang activity is reduced and gang members disengage. Peaceoholics and other similar groups provide a helping hand and a voice to the at-risk youth, who all too often slip through the cracks. Our children need to be aware that alternatives exist to gang life. If gang prevention funding is cut, the results will be seen firsthand as gang violence escalates on our streets.It is our duty to ensure that our youth are safe and productive citizens. A prerequisite necessary to assure these outcomes is the state and federal funding that will allow organizations to intervene and eliminate gang violence and activity. As a society, we cannot forget that if we fail our children, we have failed ourselves.Jauhar Abraham is the co-founder of the Peaceoholics.