Durham Regional Police Officers joined other experts to discuss youth and gang issues at a community forum Tuesday night in Pickering.
Approximately 40 people attended the event, sponsored by the Durham Family Court Clinic and supported by the DRPS, the Murray McKinnon Foundation, the Durham District School Board, the Ministry of the Attorney General (local Crown Attorney Office) and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. The MC was Dr. Alan Leschied, a psychologist and professor at the University of Western Ontario and a leading expert on how policies and legislation affect the welfare of children and families.
Police Constable (PC) Chris Fox, a High School Liaison Officer in 19 Division, talked about the dangers of gangs and how many young people dress and act like they are in a gang when, in fact, they aren’t.
“A lot of what I see is actually bullying and harassment, not gang activity,” said PC Fox, “If parents suspect their kids are involved, the parents have to do something – they need to call us and we will get community services to help out.”
D/Cst.Mary Anne Karpis, the DRPS Regional Youth Co-ordinator, PC Gord Fleming of Regional Crime Stoppers and PC Heather Briese from 16 Division also chatted with parents and students.
Nkosi Adams, a frontline youth worker with the Durham Youth Gang Strategy, outlined some of the signs parents or guardians should look for:
• Sudden change in appearance or personality
• Wearing of red or blue colours and other clothing symbolizing gangs the Bloods or the Cripps
• Suddenly coming into money but not having a job (brand new $200 basketball shoes, for example)
Rick Osborne, a reformed ex-convict who now educates kids across Canada about the truth about gang life, says some young people join gangs because they themselves are victims of bullying and want protection and power. He refers to the gang promise of an affluent lifestyle as a “big lie” as gangs are sacrificial by nature and unsafe.
He says street gangs generally mark territories for the purpose of controlling the drug trade, however, marihuana is not the issue – it’s not even considered a drug by many teenagers.
He also said gangs are especially hard on the women involved, who are often intimidated into offering safe shelters for gangsters and tasked with moving drugs and weapons for gang members. In some gangs, having multiple babies from several different mothers is prestigious.
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Expert Panel Takes Questions (JPG file, 140.9K bytes)
PC Briese Chats With Students (JPG file, 112.2K bytes)
PC Fleming at the Crime Stopper Booth (JPG file, 217.0K bytes)
PC Fox Chats After Panel Discussions (JPG file, 118.5K bytes)