To help an Asian youth from joining a gang.
Ken was a typical eighth grader: awkward, immature, mischievous, silly around girls, and full of questions. Over the summer, he changed. He sported a punky hairstyle and color, walked with an attitude, and started cutting out of school. He even stopped going home at night and instead stayed at a hideout with other teens. Everyone says that Ken is now involved in an Asian gang. Occasionally, he still reports to school. As a youth worker, what can I say to help him? Is there anything I can do?
PURPOSE OF INTERVENTION
To help an at-risk youth on the verge of, or already in, a gang replace negative factors in his life with positive ones (e.g., friends, hangouts, activities). At the very least the intervener should be able to help the youth to think of or learn of other activities that are available to him or her. A further step would be to invite the young person to one such activity and then to go with him or her to the event. Potentially, the student that begins to participate in a new group activity will probably have the best results. However, any participation at all is highly dependent on the youth’s decision whether to attend.
EXACT NATURE OF INTERVENTION
Introduce the young person to alternative activities that provide a nurturing environment: youth service agency, church youth group, community center, boys or girls club, employment, and after school sports or clubs are all possibilities.
This intervention could be done by a peer, teacher, youth worker, streetworker, counselor, psychologist, social worker, probation or police officer, parent, adult relative, or neighborhood adult. The best occasion for intervention would probably be in a passing conversation or during a planned meeting, such as with a counselor. Effectiveness of this intervention would increase if the intervener accompanied the youth or followed up on the youth’s attendance and experience in the program.
PRINCIPLES OF INTERVENTION
- Set up a meeting or create an opportunity to talk with the young person.
- Gather some background information about the student and what he or she has been doing.
- Learn what his or her interests are by interviewing others who know him or her and by asking the youth about his or her interests.
- Build a trust between you and the youth (e.g., demonstrate genuine interest, spend time with the youth, be dependable, offer friendship and assistance).
- Help the young person consider alternative activities to gang life.
- Invite the student to a new activity.
- As much as possible, prepare the adult in charge at the activity for the youth’s visit.
- Go with the young person to the event.
- Follow up on his or her experience.
Be aware of cultural and identity issues that the youth may be struggling with, such as Asian American differences. Watch for drug and weapon use.
Related topics are juvenile delinquency, crime, drugs, violence, and Asian American youth.
Hannah Goon cCYS