Editorial: Gang phase

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gang phase
The gang-related shooting of 17-year-old Anthony Brian Smyre Monday is a sobering reminder that small towns have their benefits, but avoiding gangs is not one of them. Across the United States, there has been a dramatic increase in recent decades in the growth of gangs in small cities, towns and rural areas, according to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center.
That stirs fears about serious and violent crimes ó a reality that city officials everywhere are trying to come to grips with. Fortunately, joining a gang is usually a brief commitment. According to the Resource Center, gang membership is a brief phase for most teens. “Three studies that tracked teens over time found that one-half to two-thirds of youth gang members leave the gang by the one-year mark.” That’s one gang-related statistic that actually offers hope instead of fear. One step down the gang-membership road does not have to set teens’ course for life ó as long as they survive long enough to change direction.