Friday, April 24, 2009


Dimitris Yang
Warren Woods Tower High School

Gang violence has been an unpreventable and incurable disease in the American society for centuries. Many people may ask the question, “Can gangs be stopped?” The answer simply is, no. There will always be a gang out there. Whether it’s a well-organized gang or a mediocre gang, there will always be gangs dwelling in corrupt parts of cities. Annually, gangs and criminals together cost the U.S. a mind-blowing $400 billion. The thought of completely ending gang establishments is like trying to move a mountain. The possibility of completely ending gang violence is pretty much slimmed down to zero. However, we can prevent gang establishments before they happen by informing young adolescents about the harms of gang activity and the negative effects in joining one.

I feel that it’s our job and duty to positively impact our younger generation by passing on our knowledge of gangs down onto them. Hopefully they will do the same with the generation under them. Before taking initiative, we must become leaders. And to be a leader we must be followers, like Jesus and his Disciples. We must have wisdom and knowledge, along with experience and testimonies. After gaining enough of those qualities, we can then pass it on.

What kids should know is that, becoming a member of a gang or mob has tons of negative effects. This trend is similar to a domino effect. One thing leads to another. It effects your family, friends, even yourself. You most likely will become addicted to drugs. And drugs can affect you in every aspect of life. Your friends or family members may become victims of murder because of the things you did. Finally, you can end up 6 feet under, or locked up. All these examples are results of what may happen if anyone becomes part of a gang or mob.

Respect, power, and money are all important components of any type of gang. They work together to gain supremacy and dominance over other competing gangs. People who are in gangs seem to believe that their gang members are family when they don’t have anyone to turn to. That’s really true and acceptable. However, will an individual’s gang be there when that individual gets locked up? Absolutely not. Parents and siblings are the ones who always have your back no matter the circumstance. True ‘Family’ has unconditional love.

I encourage everyone to help the society pass on the message about gangs. The good news is that gang violence has quieted down in the recession of our economy. Now it’s our chance to make a difference. We can prevent gangs from establishing and hope for a more positive and better future. It’s a difficult challenge, nevertheless it will help us significantly.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gun Violence and Our Peers

Ronald Norwood
Osborn University High School

The Youth Initiative Project is a program devoted to improving the lives of youth with teen mentors. I am one of the many Peer Educators who is passionate about accomplishing our goal to fully service our peers, who face many issues. A pressing issue we see a lot of our peers face is gun violence. The rate of firearm deaths among kids under age 15 is almost 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized countries combined (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). This is a big problem for America because it is so easy for young children and teens to get access to weapons that could potentially harm them. No child should even have access to firearms that can cause harm to others.

In one recent study 81% of children played with guns. This is something we all should be cognizant about because young lives are being influenced by the power of a gun. This is one of the main problems with young children in our community. They find guns that their parent may have left out and they decide to play with them and as a result they may kill themselves or someone else. Children are no longer afraid of guns because they have been exposed to them their whole life. In today’s society they may not take that second thought that’s needed to think about the decision they need to make about pulling the trigger. I see and hear it everyday in our schools and community. I hear my peers talking about how they “just got done shooting someone” for some type of material thing. We as a people have lost our fundamental values and our treasured beliefs.

Studies have proven that aggressive behavior may carry on over into adulthood and can foster an environment where teenagers feel unsafe. For example, many teenagers are commonly involved in physical fights. A national study reported that 42.5% of high school students were in at least one physical fight in the year preceding the survey, and 26% of students carried a weapon, including a gun or a knife, at least once in the past 30 days. Problems that teens may have had that used to be taken care of with just a fight now is resolved through the use of guns. Students hearing gunfire in their neighborhoods more than twice a week are twice as likely as other students to own a handgun. Likewise, teens living in inner city neighborhoods cite self-protection as the main reason to own a gun. Despite these facts, I believe we as a people have deeply embedded in our hearts a common goal to rid our community of all its illegal weapons, and eliminate the element of teen gun violence that is robbing our community of progress.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Tavarus Lewis
Roseville High School

My name is Tavarus Lewis and I believe that violence is senseless. When I was younger, I got into a lot of trouble and believe that I was a contributor of gun violence. I engaged in everything from fighting to selling drugs, and even robbery. It took being locked up for me to stop committing some of these acts, but even after being locked up, I went back to my old habits until my cousin was killed. That was my reality check. My cousin wasn't very old at all, and he was just a regular kid who didn’t get into as much trouble as I did. My cousin’s death opened up a new world of thinking for me. I have seen so many young people die over petty arguments, and my cousin is not the only young person that I’ve lost to gun violence.

I believe that putting your guns away is the solution. Not only are you taking someone else’s life away, your life will also become meaningless if you are in prison. Families are also affected by gun violence because they are also losing loved ones. Take my advice, before you pull a gun to shoot someone, think about whether it is worth spending the rest of your life in prison. Take my blog into consideration. Violence is very serious, and it needs to stop or we will continue to have unnecessary deaths in our communities.