In Winnipeg, youth crimes are at an all time high. The Winnipeg Police service released a statistic from that youth crime had “seen a whopping 92 percent increase” in the last five years. Youth crime in Winnipeg is rising throughout the last decade and Liz Wolff, a program director for youth in the inner city, says enough is enough. She argues that the lack of programs for youth in the city has resulted in the participation of youth in street gangs. According to CBC news, the lack of resources that children have these days have had a direct effect on their social ties and activity. This is an important story to discuss as there is patterns of this happening all over the world, especially in the United States. However, we must understand that we do not live in the safe country we think we all think we do. Most importantly, many of the reasons why we do not, falls on the hands of the educated. Now the big question is: what can we do as young, educated students, to influence youth in moving towards a positive life?
When I first looked at the statistics, I could not believe that the city I grew up in and family currently lives in, has such high crime rates by youth. Then I look back and remember, my family has been a victim of crime. This day eight years ago, my brother was taken from our family as he was shot and killed by another 17-year-old. Because of the unfortunate events, I have an extremely hard time reading statistics like the ones stated in the CBC. Instead of feeling pity for oneself, I must ask why this has happened and what can I do to make sure youth are kept off the streets.
Inner city Winnipeg has a lack of resources and programs for youth. There are little to no preventative measures to keep children from walking the streets with gangs. For many of these adolescents, it is because they have no role models. Many of their mothers or fathers are either in jail, dead or in a state that does not allow them to take care of their children. The Search Institute has created a 40 developmental asset list. The first asset on the list is family support. Since many of the childrens’ parents are not in the proper state to take care of their children, these youth look for it elsewhere. Gangs are always looking to make their group larger and stronger. They see children with no role models as vulnerable and easy to convince.
Lack of resources in the city has made gangs the only options for some youth. I strongly argue that if preventative programs were put in the area for youth, there would be a large decrease in youth crimes. The National Crime Prevention Council states the importance of keeping children in community activities. Many of these latchkey children have nothing to do and are bored after school. It is critical to have after school programs that not only keep them off the street at the time, but to develop positive assets as well.
I believe boredom is the leading cause to youth participating in gang activity. Boredom can be a result from lack of role models. Programs are extremely influential on a child’s life. As educators, we need to come together and create more sustainable programs that help children develop their own personal assets. As we all know, youth are assets in the making and as adults, we should give them the resources to allow them to develop to their full potential. The Search Institute also states the importance of community valuing youth. We cannot look at children as passive participants in the community. They are the future of our society, thus we need to give them the opportunity to be active participants. This will create a more positive identity about themselves, thus giving them the self-esteem to participate in more community activity.
Youth crime needs to stop in our society. Simple programs and activities will not fix all the problems dealing with gang activity. However, these programs will develop positive contributors in our society as well as keeping them off the street. I believe there is no reason for us to have so many children lacking resources and programs. They are vital when we live in a generation whereas many of their parents are not willing or cannot help.
For more information:
Gangs to blame for youth crime, inner-city worker says – Manitoba – CBC News. (2013, July 25). CBC.ca – Canadian News Sports Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV. Retrieved October 11, 2013
Straight Talk about Youth Gangs. (n.d.).National Crime Prevention Council. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from http://www.ncpc.org/programs/teens-crime-and-the-community/publications-1/adult2-pdf
40 Developmental Assets. (n.d.). The Search Institute. Retrieved October 11, 2013