Valdosta - In the halls at J. L. Newbern Middle School, students deal with peer pressure every day. "This is an interesting time for growth and development where children are developing and trying to find themselves," says Sherrell Newton, Assistant Principal at J. L. Newbern.
Local gangs use this vulnerability to target the young students.
And the school is taking notice. "We have seen some situations involving gangs. They've been primarily in writing, some hand signals," she adds.
They have brought in the gang unit to educate the kids on gang life and parents on knowing the signs. "Do they wear certain type of clothing, are they obsessed with certain colors, do they wear bandanas, are there certain tattoos or drawings displayed on your child?" says Choice Barnes of the Gang Unit at the Valdosta Police Department.
Michael Strickland says it's helped him get involved in his daughters education and activities. "She will appreciate it in the long run due to the fact that I might stay on her a little hard but she'll appreciate it later on in life."
And police say the school's programs are working. "We are putting that information out there so it's decreased the amount of gang activity in the school and even out there on the street," Barnes says.
The school will be holding a seminar for parents and teachers Tuesday night at 7:00 PM.