The Calgary police are trying to catch up to kids before they land in the clutches of gangs.
By actively “gang-proofing” kids and informing the public, the police are targeting kids as young as 10 for their YARD program, telling them to “get a life” that doesn’t involve gang activity.
Const. Al Devolin with the gang unit says regardless of stereotypes that dictate social status or income, “all kids are at risk.”
“If I showed you (one juvenile offender I know) and showed you where he lives, it would blow your stereotypes away,” he said.
The YARD program develops individualized programs for kids to work toward alternative lifestyles.
“The kids we see in our gang-prevention program are really disconnected from the community,” Devolin said, warning parents to be aware of anti-social behaviour and to keep kids involved.
Retired police officer, and U of C crime expert, Cathy Prowse has done extensive research on gangs. She says to be especially aware of unexplained cash your kids might have or truancy from school.
She says kids ages 10 to 15 are the most impressionable and many well form wanna-be gangs focused on violence.
“A lot of them do it because it’s something new and novel and it gets them noticed,” Prowse said.
The police will be hosting a public information session tonight as part of the Safer Communities Lecture Series, held twice per month, at the Rundle Community Association at 2409 50 St. N.E. from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Parents can also call the gang help line at 403-206-8191, or visit www.geta
life.ca if they’re concerned.