Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II made a good point in DA blasts board on anti-gang funding (Jan. 29, Page A1), saying the Board of Supervisors hasnt done enough to ensure that violent crimes associated with gangs decrease.
Solely creating law enforcement programs cannot prevent homicides; support from schools and community is necessary. Most gang members are young, so local schools should ensure there are robust clubs and organizations where students can be involved while keeping them off the streets. Facilitating access to after-school programs such as WECED Youth Media, MOJO or Merced Organizing Projects youth cohort, would provide teens with safe spaces, keeping them entertained and sharpening life skills.
Youths not actively engaged in school or their communities are vulnerable and efforts to engage them should be seen as prevention. The key to keeping people away from gangs is giving them opportunity. I have seen gang members, who are mostly minorities, with the ability to get things accomplished, but they are exerting their energy in the wrong direction. As a community, we need to tell them they are capable of something and help them get started.