Parents play a role in stopping gang recruitment - WRBL

Parents play a role in stopping gang recruitment

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COLUMBUS, Ga. - Police say the summer months bring an increase in "high-risk behavior" and recruitment to gang groups. Parents can help stop this trend by paying attention to their child.

In Columbus the word "gang" does not necessarily mean the organized affiliates that first come to mind. Sgt. Roderick Graham with Columbus police's Crime Intelligence Division defines gang as, "three or more individuals that have collectively come together to commit crime for the benefit of the group."

He says a vast majority of these groups are young people who are just bored and get caught up with the wrong crowd. That is why parents need to focus on who their kids are friends with. "If for some reason a parent knows a child may be involved in this high-risk behavior," says Graham, "then that parent should be mindful of that and possibly steer their own child away from being involved with that particular individual."

One of the places with this high-risk behavior is Winston Road, where one woman, who does not want to be identified, says she sees crime constantly. "There's so much drugs," she says. "It's drugs everywhere on every corner. So many children get beat, so many fights, so many times people get shot. We've had three killings over here."

She fears for her own safety, and for her 15-year-old grandson, who she says has been beaten up and coerced into using drugs. "He's easily persuaded," she says. "I tried talking to him and telling him it's dangerous for us, everybody. Not just for one, everybody."

She adds, "It's really scary because you don't know what to say to these children. You don't know how to say it, and you ask people here to help but you don't get no help."

Graham says as a parent, you should look for sudden changes in your child's behavior like dressing differently, only in one color, changing their shoestrings or wearing certain jewelry like his or her friends, listening to gang-related music, or using a secret sign language with friends.

Graham emphasizes keeping your kids busy with summer activities like sports or camp.

To learn more about Georgia's Street Gang Terrorism & Protection Act, visit

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.

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