What Should Be Done in the Community to Prevent Gang-Joining?

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Cover of Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership

This page gives an overview of one section of the book Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership.

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People often overlook communities as a valuable resource in reaching kids who are at risk of joining gangs. One of the reasons for this phenomenon is that, too often, gang-prevention and other programs in the school are not connected to what is going on in the streets.

In today’s economic reality — where budget cuts have reduced or entirely eliminated youth development programs — community partnerships (particularly those involved in tutoring, mentoring, life-skills training, increasing parental involvement and offering supervised recreational activities) must be a priority. Communities should:

  • Consider their existing strengths and resources.
  • Collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders to encourage a shared commitment.
  • Use partnerships to identify and address community weaknesses.
  • Make use of existing evidence-based programs.

Key recommendations for community programs include:

  • Build on programs that already exist.
  • Develop strategic plans.
  • Identify real and imagined “boundaries.”
  • Make community participation a priority and maximize partnerships.
  • Use training and technical assistance to expand organizational capacity.
  • Ensure stability.

In the Spotlight: This chapter features an interview with Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest and the founder and Director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.

Read the Changing Course chapter “What Should Be Done in the Community to Prevent Gang-Joining?” by Jorja Leap (pdf, 15 pages).

Date Created: September 16, 2013