Gang Members Getting Younger - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Gang Members Getting Younger

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October 9, 2007

Albany - - Gang activity is on the rise in South Georgia and investigators say gang members are getting younger. In Georgia last year, more than 200 children under the age of 16 were arrested for battery. Almost 300 children violated their probation. Officers say many of those kids are gang members.

They leave their mark on street signs and on buildings.

"It's just real bad out there," says Frances Green.

People in the community have to live with them.

"We lock our doors at night and in the daytime," Green says.

Police have attributed several crimes lately to gangs and they're finding gang members are getting younger.

"We have seen young people from seven years of age," says Lt. James Williams with APD.

At a Gang Watch Seminar Tuesday evening, Williams pointed out what to look for. Many gang symbols are universal and widely identifiable.

Young people admit the influence of gangs is present even at school.

"Do you think some people in your school are involved in gangs?" we asked 13 year old Kartavious Jones.

He Nods yes.

"In middle school?" we asked.

He Nods.

"How do you know?" we continued.

"Because I see them throwing it up," Jones replied.

They throw up signs to let you know which gang they proudly represent. Officers say they need to be proudly put away.

"So many people talk about gangs so were trying to steer away from that, intervene with these young people of why not to identify or have to identify," Williams says.

He suggests parents be more careful to the music their children listen to and even promotes using the bible and prayer to give children confidence in themselves.

"How we can make a positive community with young people," he adds.

This 13 year old seems to get the message.

"I just don't want to be in no gang," Jones said.

That's good news for people who want them long gone.

"We're hoping they can crack down on it so we can live comfortable in our own home," Green says.

Without the constant threat of violence.  

The seminar was hosted by the Albany Recreation Department, APD, and city commissioner Jon Howard. They held four workshops Tuesday to encourage parents to get more involved with their children to alleviate gang activity.

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