Updated 04/03/2012 10:39 PM
What can we do about gang prevention?
The second gang raid in two weeks in the Capital Region has some looking backward at what we're doing wrong and others forward at what we can do to help. Our Erin Vannella reports.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- "I'm a firm believer in positive diversions deter negative behavior," said Albany Department of Recreation Senior Gang Prevention Specialis, Ron Barrett.
It's all we can do to help prevent this, the second Capital Region gang raid in a week,.
"It's tough because a lot of time, the gangs are replacing our families," said Barrett. "They're giving a sense of protection, of belonging to these kids. A lot of these kids really want to walk that line. They want to do good things, but we also have to give opportunities to these kids."
So the Department of Recreation offers dance and lacrosse, boxing and music recording, karate and acting. But being available isn't enough either.
"It's just getting the buy in," said Barrett. "Keeping it cool for the kids because a lot of these kids are worried about how other people are looking at them, how their peers perceive them."
For School Resource Officer Willie Hughes, peer pressure is best battled with confidence and programs, like the year-and-a-half old neighborhood engagement unit, is one way to make it grow.
"If you ask them individually, you'll see a lot of those kids don't really want to be involved in the gang-like activities," said Hughes. "But they want to be able to fit in, so they're not ostracized and that's a tough thing. So we give them alternatives."
They're similar tracks from two different departments with the same goal to help.
"Our slogan here is never give up and there's a reason for that," said Hughes. “They want the kids to recognize that.”
"It's showing them role models and once they buy into a role model and get a mentor in their life, something to reach for, then the sky's the limit," said Barrett.