Everyone of us wants to protect our children from sexual predators and for the most part society does its best to see that this is accomplished. This type of child abuse gets the headlines, gets the attention from our politicians and has teachers and educators talking and providing awareness at the educational level. Children are bombarded with ads and visits at the school from police telling them not to talk to strangers; to go places in groups; what to do if approached by strangers and to report any thing or anyone touching you inappropriately. The raping and molestation of children is still going on, but society is fighting back and does recognize this form of predatory behavior in some adults a problem that needs to be dealt with and has moved to take preemptive steps that hopefully save more children from being assaulted and becoming easy targets.
There is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to sentencing these child rapists and sexual predators though, because politicians have taken up using this crime as a political tool. They try to piggy back other non popular laws on the back of life saving child abuse legislation and say oops the other guys fault when the legislation gets voted down. The penalties for child sexual predators is ridiculously low(60 years of child rape = 31/2 years in jail) is the average sentencing for sexual abuse of children.
We tend to forget the other areas in which children are vulnerable and do not educate our children well enough on how to avoid them, the other predators. One such group of predators is other children, the children that make up your city street gangs. Children want and need to feel a part of something and all of us it seems are born with a little larceny in our blood. Look in any house hold at any given time and you will find an angry, or disgruntled child; a child that feels outside of the family; this is as attractive to a street gang as an animal walking with a limp to a stalking pack of wolves. It will not take long for the hunt to begin and once it does if you do not move in to protect your child right away he of she will be theirs. From this point on it will be next to impossible to get your child back. If you do manage to get your child back they will be scarred for life. This I can tell you from personal experience. I was in a gang before I was a teenager moved up through the ranks and ran it for a few years; I know both sides of the coin predator and prey. Take my word for it, a street gang is not where you want your children to go looking for what they think they are missing, because they will lose all that they are and sometimes all that they can be.
Street Gangs are hunting for your children every minute of the day. Their very survival depends on your kids joining their ranks and they will do anything. promise anything to get them to join and they believe that membership is for life and that loyalty to the gang is everything. They will force your children to do no rapist will ever ask of them and that is to give up you, there only link back to the real world. They are seductive in their approach and ruthless in their discipline. They will offer everything to your child that you do not and will devote all of their resources to see that your child is educated successfully in the ways of the streets 1st and then the ways of crime 2nd.
Your children will be courted in school, in the parks on the street in front of your front door as soon as they reach an age when you let them out of your sight. In the courting process they will promise of anything that the child feels is missing from their life living and being with you. A hurting child is like the scent of blood to a predator in the wild. If they feel they are missing love it will be offered; if your children complain that you do not listen to them, the gang will be all ears; if your child feels that you are always going against them, the gang will always take their side; if your child is looking for a clear set of rules to follow with clear consequences for breaking them the gang will definitely give them this, but most of all the gang will make them feel wanted, important and like family and all they will have to give up is you.
Most of the time you will not even know that your children are in a gang or take into account just how deadly this is and can be. I know this because I ran one of the most successful youth gangs in this city. We first bonded together as a way to combat prejudice and avoid being beat up by the older Irish boys in the neighborhood and to find a common strength from the physical and mental abuse we were getting at home. Club houses cost money and petty crime got us all the money we needed and getting arrested got us the education we needed and the reputation we needed to start attracting other children first in our own neighbourhood and later right across the city as we grew so did our crimes and we soon did not have to hunt for members they flocked to us in droves and we made them ours.
Children flock to other children, the youth gangs, aka child predators, sensing the sameness in each other as children; the want to be heard; the need to feel wanted; the desire to feel loved and feel safe. The gang gives them all that and a sense of power and adventure as their life rushes down the toilette and you struggle to do what you should have been doing before, listening, talking trying to communicate, but now they have a new family that is holding them with fear, a fear that you will never know, unless you have been there. Maybe it is a drug habit that is being used to hold them; maybe it is a crime like murder that the gang holds them with, maybe it is something they are ashamed of like prostituting themselves for the gang; sometimes it is the threat of hurting you their parent and family that holds them, but it has for long time not been the love, the listening, or the sense of family that binds your children to them.
There is a misconception that all street gangs are dirty grungy looking rag-tag bunch of youths and that they all come out of the ghetto. The truth of the matter is that they are from all walks of life from all neighborhoods. Look on the walls of your stores and businesses, the overpasses to your highways and you will see their tagging. Chances are that it is not some poor kids moving into your neighborhood, causing problems, but one of your children, or one of your neighbours children either starting up a chapter of an already established gang, or starting one from scratch; remember that all kids experiment, want to do grown up things and are plagued by peer pressure and your child is no different. Remember also that you pass on to your children whatever prejudices that you have whether they be, religious, racial, or economical all of these are reasons for children to get territorial and it is out of this that gangs are born. Some gangs never commit a violent act, but mastermind sophisticated crimes, drug trafficking, money laundering, mail fraud, just to name a few. Our children may all start out different, but they will end up in the same place and that is on the wrong side of the law.
You as parents and we as society need to be on the lookout for all child predators, even the children. We must listen to our children and make them feel loved. The solution is in the prevention and the education, of our children. We must educate ourselves to recognize the signs of danger like, does your child insist on wearing a certain type of T-shirt everyday, wear anything that could be considered a uniform. If more and more children in your neighbourhood are starting to dress identical, this could mean that they are in a gang and are obliged by the gang to wear their colors, or their uniform whenever in public.
I told my the granddaughter the other day that schools should have non career day, so that parents and loved ones who have a not so nice a life story to tell could help to give a real picture of what happens to children who get involved with gangs and end up going the wrong way. In closing I would like to leave you with this thought,”The most hardened youth gang member started as a child lacking something, or afraid of something. Youth gang members who do not find their way back home, turn into your drug dealers and pushers; your pimps and whores; your thieves and your murders; your street beggars and your homeless, but they all started out as someones little boy or girl.”
- Drugs, murder and redemption: the gangs of Caracas (guardian.co.uk)
- Helping Your Kids Steer Clear of Gangs (education.com)