Wednesday June 28, 2017

Welcome to GATE America - Gang Training & Education

The G.A.T.E. Program was award the Frederick Milton Thrasher Award by the National Gang Crime Research Center for "Exemplary Programs in Gang Prevention".
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Talking to your child or teen

Police Officers are frequently asked by parents what is the best way to keep their children away from gangs.  There is not one catch all response to that question.  However, there are several techniques that work to keep gangs out of your child's life.  The most important factor in a child staying gang free is their parents.

Parents play the key role in keeping their child gang free.  Parents wield incredible power over their child's future.  What a parent does over the course of a child's development directly impacts the child far more than just the present.  The impact of the parent reaches far into the child's adult development, including behavioral and social development.

All to often parent's wait until a problem arises then react.  Unfortunately, that is too late in the development of a problem to become involved with your child.  The parent should be involved constantly in their child's life.  Once a child becomes involved in gangs, the parents must play catch up, to the years of developmental problems which may have manifested.  All to frequently, the remedies applied are ineffective in the short term and extremely time consuming over the long hall.    Parents can preempt a gangs affect, before the school, counselors and police become involved.

Becoming a parent is the most exciting time of his or her life, but anyone can become a parent.  There are no licenses or tests one must take to be a parent.  So sometimes without strong internal family support, some parents are at a loss as to how to deal with their children.  If your community provides parenting classes, taking these classes can provide valuable tools to dealing with your child.  If you can not find classes in your community, do not be afraid to reach out to local social service agencies for assistance.  They can usually provide alternatives, referrals and or counseling in dealing with your child.

Some times parents forget the basics and attempt to adopt techniques that work in the parent’s adult social relationships.  A parent has to "parent" their child.  All to frequently, parents have said, "I am trying to be my child's friend."  However recent studies have shown that youths respond best when parents provide a stable, structured home. Parent’s who provide realistic rules, with equally realistic penalties for negative behavior, are rewarded with a lower degree of "at-risk" behavior from their child.  This research also showed that if youths lose the respect for their parents they are more likely to get involved in "at-risk" behavior.  In addition, it also placed a greater strain on the family unit, because the youths tend to challenge their parents decisions regardless if the are in the best interests of the child.

For example: If you set a curfew of 12 a.m. and your child violates the curfew by an hour or two.  Set the punishment realistically.  First, listen to your child's excuse.  They may have a valid excuse.  However, remember very few excuses can get around the telephone, if they are running late calling always is best. Explain, this to your child regardless of the reason for being late being. If the excuse doesn't wash with you discus the punishment, not saying, "you are grounded for life."  Most of all do not cut a punishment short because they are getting on your nerves or being a problem at home. These only undermines your authority, and makes them think you are a pushover.

Talking to your child about their feelings is also another way to observe problems before the have fully developed? One of the greatest books I have found that helps illustrate this, and provide realist ways to deal with your child’s feelings is a book called "How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk", by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.  This book provides helpful techniques to draw your child’s emotions out without getting involved in a full-blown fight.

However, avoiding confrontations should not be the goal.  The goal should be in effectively communicating with your child and resolving the problem at hand.  This at times may be difficult, because children are prone to emotional outbursts and fits of quiet when they discuss their problems.     Sitting down with a child, especially a child who may be dabbling in "at-risk" behavior or gang related activity is paramount in bringing to the forefront the problem.  Acting in an extremely judgmental and argumentative attitude over your child's problem will only solidify your child’s attitude and make your attempts to help that much harder.

When you decide to discuss your child’s problems, try to attempt to see your child’s point of view, or view it from there perspective.  Remember that children see their problems, with a greater intensity then adults typically would.  As a result there is a certain amount of urgency that they feel about all of their problems.

Take an active part in your child’s life.  In this day and age parents lives are extremely hectic, between working one or two jobs and attending to the day to day necessities makes it difficult to take an active roll in your child’s life.  So what does being active in your child’s life mean?  Taking part in their role in the community, such as sports, hobbies and social activities.  If your child is involved in a sport, besides attending the sport, take your child aside and help them practice at their sport.  Play catch, kick soccer balls around, and throw a few pitches.  If they have hobbies encourage them, and work with them at the hobby.  Find a hobby you both like to do, doing a common hobby together is a great relationship builder.


 
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