“In a Gangster’s Paradise” is an NEA publication aimed at helping teachers wise up to the reality of gangs in the schools. I think LDS leaders might benefit from it as well. If LDS teenagers in a small and famously safe town in the heart of Zion (Appleton, Wisconsin, of course) can end up in jail through gang involvement – and I know a couple who have – then no area is immune.
It might be helpful to know some of the signs of gang involvement (or wannabe status). Certain baseball caps or ways of wearing clothing, for example, can point to gang orientation. Take the Gang IQ quiz by clicking above “Gang IQ” at http://www.nea.org/neatoday/0804/feature1.html.
Gangs are one manifestation of the secret combinations the Book of Mormon warns about. The Book of Mormon tells us that they are had among all people – a very true statement – and also indicates that, at least for some forms, they have secret oaths and secret signs that can be used to allow members to recognize each other. Interestingly, it describes gangs focused on theft and murder at a petty scale, rebel guerrilla groups that strike from the strongholds in the mountains a la Al Qaeda and the Shining Path, and extremely dangerous groups that organize within the elite ranks of society with the objective of taking away the liberties of a people. And in Ether 8, it prophetically warns that in our day a particular combination will seek to take away the freedom of all nations. I find the Book of Mormon to be remarkably insightful and increasingly essential for an understanding of major currents in our day, and urge that we pay more attention to its repeated messages in this area.
Meanwhile, keep your eyes on your young people and help protect them from the deadly influence of your local gangs, as petty and “benign” as they may be compared to the real robbers out there.
5 thoughts on “LDS Youth and Gangs”
You might be interested in this specific link relating to Mormon polynesian gang members, it’s an interesting and controversial read.
“When you go into some of these homes and see the way these kids live—they have everything they want!” Castellanos says. “But they don’t have everything they need, which is love.”
Also respect. I worked with a youth detention camp in Utah in the 80’s and the cities around the world have gotten much worse. Although the church helps as always parents must always stay on top of their kids activities and do what they can to help other kids in the neighborhood. This coming from one that came from great parents but was a very troubled youth until I joined the LDS Church.
I know this is a serious post, but I keep picturing what a Mormon gang would be up to.
Locking people in meeting halls forcing them to eat casseroles and lime jello while they secretly go to their homes and clean them leaving the refrigerators full of food.
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I couldn’t agree more with the comment two above mine.
While it won’t solve all gang problems, love in these kid’s homes would greatly reduce this problem.
Every one of us wants to be appreciated in some way, But we all find different ways to be get that appreciation. If parents don’t show their kids that they appreciate them, they are very likely to find someone else who will. They often find a way to meet that need in the wrong crowd simply because that is how they found a way to feel appreciated and they have not yet learned a better way.
Parents … show your kids that you appreciate them, that they are good at stuff, that they are needed.