Video Blogs for Teen Gang members

Over at Orange Politics Ruby has written a post questioning the local school systems ideas about dealing with gang violence. Her questions are based on a news article from a local newspaper.

My comment became so long I decided to make it a blog post. Go read her post, City schools address gangs, first for context. My idea is basically to help teens make a video blog about their experiences.

The first thing schools and parents need to do is LISTEN to kids. The kids who self-identify as a gang members and the ones that don’t.

The most important part of that last sentence is “self-identify”. A teen needs to be free to admit they are part of a gang BEFORE you classify them as a gang member. You can not use clothing, race, and signs as proof of a persons affiliation with a gang. There are way to many other variables. Our society is built upon being innocent BEFORE being declared guilty. Not the other way around.

I’ve heard more than one local police officer mention the popularity of gang style clothes and actions. Such as hanging out on the street corner. Its popular to hang tough with your friends. The lure of making money is part of it too. You can’t just drive by a group of teenagers, ID them as gang members, and automatically know how to solve their problems.

Popular culture makes it extremely hard to determine who the “bad guys” are. This is a reality of the entire world. The concept of “good guys” and “bad guys” is a fiction. Its time we start teaching children critical thinking skills to make these determinations for themselves. We can’t as responsible adults be lazy with our good guy/bad buy dualistic thinking. Its a bad example for kids. I wonder how much damage Bush’s war on terror has inflicted on American children’s ability to discern the truth about their global neighbors?

Here is a practical idea:

Help kids made video blogs. Think of video blogs as a serialized video documentary shared on the web. Teens could work with peers they respect to record, edit, and share their ideas online. First BELIVE that the goal is to make a positive impact on a single child. Don’t just concentrate on the whole problem. Think of the problem of gangs as a challenge of an individual.

What could a teens video blog about gangs solve?
1) It would allow teens involved with gangs or near them a chance to voice there concerns. Teens need to be listened to and respected.

2) It could be one piece of a wholistic approach to solving many social issues.

3) The video could act a type of research material for child psychologist and educators.

4) The video would educate community members about what goes on in a teenagers head.

5) Creativity is very healthy and therapeutic.

Again the above idea and comments are by no means the ONLY solution to the giant problem that gang violence presents. LISTENING is very important and quite hard to do well. In my experience in AmeriCorp the only people who can truly listen well are the ones who have similar experiences as the people who need help.

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