POSTED: Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 5:39pm
UPDATED: Friday, March 4, 2011 - 8:23am
EL PASO - There couldn't be a worse time for cuts to after school program budgets. There are some pretty scary new statistics on youth gangs and why groups like the Boys and Girls Club say it may only get worse.
"Belonging is something that's very important to teenagers," said Arturo Jaime, director for the Boys and Girls Club of El Paso. It's belonging to gangs that he is trying to steer kids away from.
"Recruiting youth into gangs for protection, offering them parties," Jaime said.
The Boys and Girls Club surveyed the children and parents they serve and the results show kids do have more options after school now - to get in trouble.
"That's the the different things like initiation, the smoking, and doing a whole lot of other things occurs," Jaime said.
70% of the kids surveyed said they knew gang members personally and many added they'd been recruited by gangs before. But Jaime fears budget cuts may only increase the numbers.
"The more cuts we see the more need we see as well."
Not only did most of the kids say they knew a gang member but most of the parents said they felt there was heavy gang activity in their own neighborhoods.
"Kids don't feel safe walking to school and they see the graffiti on the walls," said Holly Mata, a grad student from UTEP who helped compile the research. She says the parents and kids they surveyed all agreed on a solution.
"It's mentoring programs, help with homework after school, structured recreation," Mata said
Tonight both Jaime and Mata held a community forum to let parents know what they found. For more information on the survey, click on the link below.
|BGC HHDRC Forum March 3.pdf ||765.32 KB|