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Benefits of youth intervention programs in curbing gang violence

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Updated: April 29, 2014 9:25AM



Can youth intervention programs curb gang violence? Common sense dictates that if children, adolescents and young adults have alternatives, their fates can be radically altered for the better.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) go further, stating that stopping youth gang involvement requires not just public health professionals, but also public safety personnel working together. Here's a look at the various ways that working proactively with youth can make a difference in the effort to address issues of gang violence.

Less youth violence

The most common age for youth to join a gang is between 13 and 15, the CDC states. While gang crime poses an obvious danger to the community, it also places these young men and women at high risk. The CDC goes on to state that 4,828 young people aged 10 to 24 were victims of homicide-an average of 13 each day-in 2010. Intervening with teens at risk to the gang structure means saving lives.

Reduced drug-related crime

Gangs derive their income from selling drugs, and youngsters who become part of gang life are at much higher risk to become drug abusers themselves. Working to intervene with youth at the cusp of committing their lives to gangs holds the promise of shielding them from drugs on both fronts, and from drug-related crimes.

A safer community

Gang members are made, not born. William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of State, notes that kids join gangs because they see the gang structure offering the best options for life at their age. And where gangs are allowed to grow and prosper, innocent residents are put at risk. Simply put, youth intervention means fewer new gang members on the streets, and a greater sense of security for those who might feel threatened by gang activity.

To learn more about efforts to prevent gang activity in Lake County, visit the Buncich Boosters website. Sheriff John Buncich has worked for three terms to ensure Lake County has professionally trained drug and gang enforcement officers to proactively address these issues. He is currently running for his fourth term as Lake County, Ind. Sheriff.

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