Adolescent gang members and mental health

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Youth gang members as a whole display a greater level of anti-authority than either peripheral youth or non-gang members. Gang-affiliated youth are often outside the bounds of the traditional mental health services and have particular needs. Because of the increased risk to exposure to violence, these youth have increased rates of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

There are high levels of mental health disorders within the juvenile detention population as a whole, estimated to affect between 40–70%, including psychotic disorders, mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorders.

 

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Why do people join gangs?

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Abuse, neglect, domestic violence and poverty…. Basically if you grow up in the hood and from early age on all you see around you is people getting hurt, killed, abused… what do you expect? In addition to that, if you experience abuse at home it makes you feel so little, helpless, hopeless and vulnerable that you try to get away from it. Children usually form a bond with their mother. She is the first caregiver, the first human being a newborn get in contact and build a bond with. She is the first person a child trusts and depends on when it comes to protection. Second comes dad.

Now imagine mom getting beat up by dad and a little 3-4 year old sees that. What the child develops is a thinking like, if mom can’t even protect herself from the beating, how could she protect me. And at the same time you as a little dude can’t trust your dad no more either because if he beats your mom he will most likely beat you too sooner or later. And if he is and abuser, how would he prepare you for real life, without gang banging, without violence and all that. He can’t because he most likely has never learned it himself.

And if it isn’t abuse it is usually because other family members are members. It is very impressive if the older cousin is a gang member doing all the stuff your mama told you not to do. It is curiosity. It is wanting to do what the older boys do. But even that goes back to underlying emotional abuse at home. Abuse doesn’t always have to physical. It can be that your parents try to protect you so bad from the world that it make you feel so insecure and small as a child that you start looking at your older brothers or cousins or uncles and you start seeking excitement.  You start wanting to experience life and you start feeling overprotected and you start trying to break free.

If someone always makes every decision for you there comes a point where you start feeling that it isn’t right-which is usually in the early teens, when you start realizing that in other families things are different and you start trying to figure out what is right and wrong and of course as a boy at 12-13 years of age you start looking at older male family members and other boys in the neighborhood. Same goes for when you are neglected at home. No matter what kind of abuse it is, physical or emotional – most boys join gangs around that age for the reasons I mentioned.

And if all this comes with poverty and being constantly told, no, you cant have this, no we cant go there, no I don’t have the money for this or that, you will go out and try to get things on your own and at 13, 14 there is only very few ways to make money fast.

Like I said in the beginning all these things can be broken down to a child developing insecurities and the idea that they are not good enough for this world. They want to be something, a part of something, they are seeking a meaning, a feeling of being important in this world and they start covering their insecurities and weaknesses by joining gangs, where they have to prove that they are somebody who deserves respect and acceptance – things they received at home.

The only problem is that if a young dude tries to cover up his perceived shortcomings and weaknesses with aggression and anger, he will develop serious mental health problems and disorders but as a young dude you don’t see that part coming. I wish something could be done about this tho.

Shoot to Kill: Why Baltimore is one of the most lethal cities in the U.S.

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Quinzell Covington went on a shooting “caper” for the first time in the late 1990s with his cousins and friends. The tough guys who raised him in ways of the streets pulled the trigger that day. Afterward, over Chinese takeout, Covington tried to ingratiate himself with the crew by declaring that their victim got what he deserved.

He was about 13 years old. Growing up, he knew it was wrong to shoot a man. Still, Covington said, he didn’t feel remorse. What he did feel was that his crew had newfound respect for him.

By 15, he was the one doing the shooting. Over the next dozen years, Covington learned to do it well. He used 9 mm guns that held 16 bullets and Mac-10 submachine guns. He lured victims to his turf, where he could scout for witnesses and surveillance cameras, in what he called his “Miranda check” — a macabre reference to the right to remain silent.

He also knew where to aim.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE:  Shoot to Kill: Why Baltimore is one of the most lethal cities in the U.S. Source: Baltimore Sun

Know Yourself, Know Your Self – Part V

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I’m the kind of human being you can contact, whenever you need to talk, whenever you feel like you have no one else to talk to or when you have things to talk about, you just can’t share with friends or family. That is one of the reasons why I started that nonprofit. Not just to collect mnoey, but to provide a place people can turn to when they feel alone. All it takes sometimes is a little trust from your side and an ear, time and heart from someone like me.

I know what it means to have someone because a long time ago, when I needed an ear desperately, there was one person that took the time to listen to me. And that is why I feel like I want to give back to people what I have received. I know it is going to help a lot.

I haven’t made the world and not everything that goes wrong in it is always my fault. I just live in this world and part of the journey of live is to find your place in it. There are things I can’t change and I have accepted that fact.

But there are things that can be changed and I am here to help making this change.

Know Yourself, Know Your Self – Part IV

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I have respect for everybody. No one has to earn my respect because I believe being respected by other human beings is a birthright.

The only thing a person can earn is another persons’ disrespect. I’m like the teacher who gives you an A+ at the beginning of every school year and you are the only one who can mess it up by purposely not attending classes, by forgetting homework repeatedly and by getting bad grades because you are unwilling to learn. I’m that kind of person that collects money for the poor, the ones in need, even though I could use some help myself.

Simply put, I know there are many who have it way worse than me.

Know Yourself, Know Your Self – Part III

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I love to encourage people to help me or to inspire them to go for their goals.

Just actively do something positive for your community and get beyond the ‘dreaming’-stage. If you know a single mother in the neighborhood that is struggling and it is the end of the month. Bring her a bag of groceries. If you know she has a baby, bring a pack of diapers, too.

Or just plant flowers in your front yard. Make it an event for the whole neighborhood on a Saturday. Planting first and after that y’all come together for a BBQ or something.

No guns – just fun!

An event like that, not only makes the neighborhood look better, more friendly and peaceful. It also has an effect on you. It is not just planting flowers. You are doing something positive for yourself, too. And coming together and getting to know each other helps building trust in the neighborhood.

Of course, there will always be some fools around who don’t or do not want to understand that message but for the majority of the people in the neighborhood those little things could make the difference. This is what I want to collect money for. It’s called healing the hood from the inside out. If people don’t have the money for things like that –it’s not gonna happen.

But if they would receive money from a nonprofit organization, I’m convinced that many people would be with it and participate.

Know Yourself, Know Your Self- Part II

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I am not an object.
I am not an item you use when you feel like it.
You can’t put me back in the box when you’re done and expect me to wait in there until you feel like wanting to play with me again. You can’t shut me up either, cause I have the right to speak my heart when I need to. If you don’t want to hear it, ok, that is your choice!

I am human.
I am a being.
I have emotions – feelings.
I am sweet, smart and lovable.
I am a loving and caring human being.
I care about others.
I care about strangers.
I am empathic – means I am able to feel your happiness as well as your pain the same way you feel it. I cry with you, I laugh with you.
I am fair and respectful.
I have dreams, plans and goals and I like to communicate these to other people in order to find the ones with similar ambitions.

We human beings are always stronger if we come together, think together and act together. Achieving goals is always easier if you have a little help from someone who can see your dreams too, who has similar ideas and the more people come together, the more strategies can be worked out to achieve these goals.