|Steered Straight is the contracted Anti-Gang facilitator for the
Ocean County Department of Juvenile Services
( visit http://www.co.ocean.nj.us/ocjs/GangAwareness.aspx )
TAG (Truth About Gangs) is designed to be an early intervention program for intermediate school students, aimed at reducing gang violence and activity in Ocean County. Special guest speakers will lecture on gangs in our region, discuss local trends, and stress the overall influence and impact that street gang members have on young people. Our main objective is to prevent and deter our youths from joining gangs. We develop strategies, options and alternatives to gang membership for the students and share valuable information for parents and educators.
As you well know, youth gangs are linked with serious crime problems in elementary and secondary schools throughout the United States. A report issued by the U.S. Department of Education and Justice found that the percentage of students reporting the presence of gangs at school nearly doubled between 1989 and 1995. This report also found a strong correlation between the presence of gangs and both guns and drugs in schools.
Gang violence is on the rise and many gangs are using schools as recruiting grounds. Our TAG Program consists of speakers, literature and handouts, all of which inform students of the dangers and consequences associated with gang membership. Hopefully, by instilling these lessons at an early age we can persuade them from joining gangs.
Parents are the first line of defense in combating the gang problem. Many young people join gangs because they do not have a structured family life. A gang promises to give this feeling of “family” to the youth. Others join gangs due to peer pressure, excitement, money or intimidation. Whatever the reason, a parent needs to recognize the identifiers and telltale signs of gang membership in order to make every possible effort to keep the youths in their “real family”.
However, educators are equally important in shaping a youth’s life as they show the student that they not only care about them as individuals, but also about their future. Schools should not allow gang clothing, colors, or gang signs and symbols to be worn or displayed on school grounds. Zero tolerance is a policy adopted by many school districts.
The lesson learned through our program could be the deciding factor in a student’s decision to becomes a foot soldier in a gang or choose a more productive path. Peer pressure and other related factors often play into a child’s perspective about gangs. We want to drive home the message that gang membership can only lead to drugs, violence, jail or even death.
If you are interested in having our program presented in your school, please contact Art Midgley, Assistant Superintendent of Volunteer Services, at 732-288-7726
|Direct inquiries and comments to:|
Surface Mail: Steered Straight, Inc.;
P.O. Box 842
Millville, NJ 08332-0842
Telephone: (856) 691-6676