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).
About This Article
This article presents a chapter summary from the joint National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publication Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership (pdf, 166 pages). Changing Course features chapters written by some of the nation’s top criminal justice and public health researchers. The volume was edited by Thomas R. Simon, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nancy M. Ritter, National Institute of Justice, Reshma R. Mahendra, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.