Dear Oakland Newcomers,
How often do you find yourself thinking about gangs? As someone new to Oakland, you may not realize we have a gang history. I think about them a ton because of family/ Oakland history about gangs which is why I am writing to you because I want you to know of this problem and be an upstander in helping to spread awareness!
Based on my research, it is explicit that gangs tend to affect youth in ages 12-24 more than any other age group. This is a major problem because the youth is our future and if the youth keep being targeted then in the future we may see more and more age groups being affected by gangs.
Gangs are a significant health problem throughout many communities in the world. It affects many things like our mental state, our lives, families, and the youth. In the analysis of the data collected by office of juvenile justice and delinquency and prevention, the survey asks about topics such as city and county agencies reporting gangs, year gangs became a problem, number of gangs and gang members, types of gangs, unsupervised and troublesome youth groups, gang member demographics, gang migration, gangs and crime, gangs and drugs. But the main focus is unsupervised and troublesome youth groups. The analysis of this data pointed out, “Demographic studies of gangs cited by Howell show that the typical age range for a gang is 12–24 with the average age of gang members 17–18 years old. The average age tends to be older in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago where gangs are well established and have been in existence for longer periods of time.”(ojjdp.ojp.gov) This is a health problem because of how being in a gang since the young age of 12 can affect you mentally. Many gang members and former gang members suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Also that gang members don’t live a very long time, which implies that the mortality rate for people in gangs is significantly higher than someone who is not involved with gangs.
There are specific health issues that come with being on the streets. The most common is abuse of drugs and alcohol. This also ties in with the fact that people in gangs do not live long lives because most of them suffer from drugs and alcohol. In the article titled “Gangs and Children” by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry it talks about risks when children and adolescents join gangs, how it affects families, ways parents can prevent gang affiliation. One of the most eye opening facts is, “Consequences of gang membership may include exposure to drugs and alcohol, age-inappropriate sexual behavior.”(accap.org) This is eye opening because when you put the two facts that young people are in gangs and they are doing drugs and consuming alcohol and that these are some peoples children is alarming.
You may be wondering what is PTSD, anxiety, and depression? And how are they linked to people in gangs? Well the article “Gang Membership Tied To Mental Health Problems” talks about how gang members and former gang members suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Also stories that prove these facts. One statistic that stands out is,” People injured through violence are six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than people injured in accidents, according to our research.”(theconversation.com) Most people in gangs are often involved in violence, thus making this statement very true because if gang members often see and experience violence then that means they are 6 times more likely to suffer from PTSD.
I distributed a survey where I asked the community of oakland a series of questions about gangs, and also some personal questions that help my data. I gave my survey to my teachers and they sent it out to the Oakland community. I have a total of 17 repoondents.
Figure 1 is titled, What is your ethnicity/ race? And it shows the respondents ethnicity.
This argues that all races have opinions about gangs so no matter what race you identify as, gangs affect you.
Figure 2 is titled, How many people do you know are in a gang?It shows that some respondents know more people in gangs than others. This argues that some people know more people in gangs than others.
Figure 3 is titled, Age of Respondents It shows the age range of the respondents. This represents that the majority of the people who took my survey are 20 and under.
Based on my research it is clear that half of the community knows people in gangs and for younger people it is more relevant to their lives their needs to be more youth in afterschool programs to learn about gangs and the harm they cause, we need more jobs for former gang members to help them out and finally we need to educate the about 50% who did not know gang members.
My first act shall be kind of how my school is. Making it mandatory that all highschoolers (9-12) have to attend an after school program that teaches about gang prevention such as ways to stand up for yourself and how to be wary. The supplies that I would need for this is simple. I can contact my principals at my school since they have direct contact with the ousd staff and they could show this proposal to the staff and go from there. Then from there if the proposal is passed then there would be a 30 kid limit to the program. The obstacles that I expect is that in some way some schools don’t have enough money for extra after school programs for all the students but this can easily not be a problem if ousd would provide the right amount of money for schools.
My second act is to educate. What I can do right now is make an account on social media (instagram) and post my survey and hashtags about that can help me push this movement forward. This would take little to no effort. I can measure success by the increase of survey responses. Some obstacles i expect are that since it would be a new account there wouldn’t be that many people viewing or seeing the posts.
Aim #3 –
My third aim would be to have gang members that suffer from PTSD, anxiety, depression or former gangs members who are or attended rehab to join a program where it makes it easier for them to get starting jobs as well as opportunities to attend adult school. I feel that if I can measure success by places that have a lot of unemployment, the unemployment rate would rise. Some obstacles that I expect is that since we are quarantined the number of people with
out jobs is substantially high which means more people are looking for jobs thus making it harder for a former gang member to get a job.
Thank you for taking your time to read this letter. And of course consider being a supporter! Protect the youth at all costs. #Youthvstheworld
- Rahtz, Emmylou. “The Psychological Impact of Gang Violence.” The Conversation, 19 Sept. 2018, theconversation.com/the-psychological-impact-of-gang-violence-77267.
- Aacap. Gangs and Children, www.aacap.org/aacap/families_and_youth/facts_for_families/fff-guide/Children-and-Gangs-098.aspx.
- Survey Results: Gang Member Demographics, Age, ojjdp.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh176/files/pubs/96natyouthgangsrvy/surv_6a.html.