Gun-related violence is violence committed with the use of a gun (firearm or small arm). Gun-related violence may or may not be considered criminal. Criminal violence includes homicide (except when and where ruled justifiable), assault with a deadly weapon, and suicide, or attempted suicide, depending on jurisdiction. Non-criminal violence includes accidental or unintentional injury and death (except perhaps in cases of criminal negligence). Also generally included in gun violence statistics are military or para-military activities.
They cause fear, destroy property, threaten community security and drive out businesses.
The gang problem affects all races, ethnicities, socioeconomic classes and neighbourhoods, including suburbs and rural areas. Studies show that prolonged involvement in gangs can wreak havoc on a child’s life and development.
Luckily, there are many ways you can prevent gang problems in your community.
What does “gang” mean?
Any group of three (3) or more people, formally or informally organized, which may have a common name or identifying sign or symbol, where members individually or collectively engage in or have engaged primarily in street level criminal behavior, creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation within the community.
Understand the gang allure
Street gangs provide the illusion of belonging, security and friendship, especially for teens who feel isolated because of their ethnic or cultural background. Many teens get caught up in the excitement of gang membership even when they are forced into violent, scary circumstances.
Gang related activities affect everyone
Signs that your child may be involved in gang activity…
- Shows signs of tobacco, alcohol or drug use.
- Changes circle of friends and desires too much privacy.
- Carries a weapon or conceals personal items.
- Makes impulsive, excessive purchases (clothes, jewelry, car).
- Has large sums of money from an unexplained source.
- Uses a gang’s specific colours, emblems or hand signals.
- Has had negative interactions with police.
- Engages in vandalism or delinquent behaviour.
What parents can do to assist in preventing gang activity…
- Spend quality time with your children and get involved in their education.
- Know your children’s friends and their families.
- Teach your children how to cope with peer pressure.
- Help your children develop good conflict/resolution skills.
- Encourage your children to participate in positive after school activities with adult supervision (e.g. organized sports, youth groups).
- Challenge your children’s whereabouts.
“Gangs are a complex issue. They involve at-risk youth and men and women in organized crime groups. We know that a multifaceted solution that involves the entire community is the answer. To that end, we as a community need to address the broader social factors at play. Effective anti-gang efforts begin with partnerships among parents, schools, law enforcement, religious institutions, community organizations, businesses and youth. And to successfully address the gang phenomenon, we need to develop a comprehensive gang strategy, involving several components: Early identification of at risk individuals, education, prevention, diversion, suppression, exit strategies and community involvement.”
What’s our community doing about street gangs?
- Child and Youth Friendly Burlington is a not-for-profit organization specializing in youth leadership and mentoring initiatives.
- Christie Lake Kids serves economically disadvantaged children and youth by providing recreation and skill-building programs at no cost and with all barriers to participation removed.
- Boys and Girls Club of Burlington offers a range of opportunities and activities to youth in a safe, supportive atmosphere.
- Big Brothers Big Sisters Burlington pairs children with inspiring mentors who act as friends and role models.
- Kids Help Phone provides youth with toll free, 24 hour, bilingual and anonymous phone counseling across the country.
- Children and Youth Agenda sponsored by the City of Burlington and United Way Burlington seeks to improve access and availability of services for youth and their families through community action.