Anti-gang effort to focus on home

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Anti-gang effort to focus on home

Unread post by stamps » June 11th, 2007, 11:57 am

Anti-gang effort to focus on home
Bill would hold parents accountable for offspring's crimes
By Ruby Gonzales Staff Writer
Article Launched: 06/10/2007 10:35:54 PM PDT

In an effort to make parents of gang members more accountable, a new bill would require them to pay for and go through parenting classes once their progeny get convicted.

Under the proposed Anti-Gang Violence Parental Accountability Act by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, the court would order these parents to take classes. There they would learn how to communicate effectively with teens, how to identify gang and drug activity in children and find out what agencies and programs are available for job training, education and intervention.

The classes also educate parents about the fines and jail time that await their children for committing additional gang-related crimes as well as the penalties they can get for aiding and abetting in crimes committed by their offspring.

The bill passed the Assembly this week and is heading to the Senate.

As part of the curriculum, which would be developed by the Department of Justice, Mendoza said parents whose children were killed would speak.

"It's making them see what will happen 10 years in the future," he said.

He pointed out that anyone caught speeding or driving drunk is sent to dependency classes. "But when someone can't control their

kids, we look the other way," he said.
The bill will require accountability for parents of gang members as well as help parents who want to keep their children away from gangs but don't know where to turn, he said. If the cost is a financial hardship to the parents, they would be able to pay the court monthly.

Mendoza, who grew up in South Los Angeles, said his cousin was killed in a drive-by shooting and his aunt was in denial for a long time.

He said getting gang members at this early stage could dissuade them from the gang life.

"The younger you get them, it's much easier to mold them and put them on the right path. We need to focus on how to get these kids and keeping them on the right path," Mendoza said.

Mendoza said the idea for the bill came about after holding a gang summit in his district in February.

The bill's supporters include the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Sheriff Lee Baca, the California Council for Adult Education, and the cities of Moorpark, Cerritos, Whittier, Norwalk and Santa Fe Springs.

Deputy District Attorney Gary Hearnsberger, who heads the the's Hard Core Gang Division, sees the bill as one attempt to address the gang problem.

"Is it the answer? No. Will it help? Probably in some cases," he said.

Hearnsberger said sometimes parents don't know their child is in a gang or is involved with drugs and sometimes the parents don't know how to control their kids.

The legislation makes sense especially if the minor is a first-time offender or hasn't yet committed serious crimes, he said.

He pointed out that there are more than 80,000 documented active gang members and almost 1,100 criminal street gangs in Los Angeles County.

"The gang problem has to be attacked on multiple fronts. Not just suppression," Hearnsberger said.

Suppression efforts can take active gang members off the street but they are replaced by new gang members, he said. Through prevention efforts, he said you can focus on the young.

"Kids become involved in gangs young. People don't realize that," he said, adding that the youngest gang members he's seen were 11 or 12. "We prosecute 14-year-olds for doing drive-by shootings."

Wes McBride, executive director of the California Gang Investigators Association, said the majority of gang members come from poverty-stricken areas and from single-parent households on welfare, or in situations where both parents are working just to put food on the table.

"We've always said parents need to care. Any cop will tell you, you need more parental involvement," he said.

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Unread post by DK » June 17th, 2007, 3:27 pm

While parental involvement is indeed a key component for a young person, once again it's all being done the wrong way. All this is, is another way for them to make money off of families who have no money to begin with. I work with gang involved youth everyday, it's my job. I've met numerous parents of these kids and some of them you can tell right away why their children are in the situation their in. But that's a very small minority of them. They always try to portray the parents of our children as some kind of bad monster who doesn't give a damn about their kids, but I can tell you from my own experience, that's so far from the truth it isn't even funny. Those in power will always find a convenient excuse to cover up their lack of support for their city's poor residents. Maybe if some of these parents were given opportunities for decent jobs, they wouldn't be gone from the house for the majority of the day working 3 or 4 jobs and be able to spend time with their children.

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