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.

 

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

When childhood innocence and gang violence lived side by side in Boyle Heights – by Hector Becerra / LA Times

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In the 1980s, my boyhood best friend in Boyle Heights and I chatted about gangs. Particularly about starting one.

The idea was absurd since me joining a gang was a little like Potsie from “Happy Days” driving south of the border and becoming a hit man for a Mexican drug cartel. It wasn’t in my hard-wiring, nor did my life experience lend itself to me going from a bookworm to “Smiley,” vato loco at large.

But there was something almost approaching mainstream about gangs a generation ago. Starting even something that weakly mimicked a gang — minus the hardcore commission of crimes, getting shot at and arrested — didn’t seem like the craziest thing ever. At the time, gang members didn’t try very hard to hide the fact that they were gang members. They hung out in corners and on stoops, and advertised their loyalties with tattoos inked to their visible skin like NASCAR racers.

Gang members were part of the scenery, like the shrubs finely coated by the freeway emissions from the nearby East L.A. interchange.

My friend Jesse recalled that he, his uncle and a couple of other kids from the neighborhood formed a group called the Rebels.

“We would have never formed that group if there were any real gang around us,” he said. “I think it was more like an identity for the group…. It didn’t last very long. Once we heard there was a club called the Rebels out of Rosemead and they were going to come down and kick our asses.”

But in fact, there were real gangs around us. They just hadn’t fully breached the core of our particular little neighborhood on Pomeroy Avenue, just a block from L.A. County-USC Medical Center. The closest we had to a resident gang in the 1980s were the Lord Boys, named after Lord Street — “altar boys in comparison to some of the killers running other streets and blocks … beyond the wall,” Jesse recalled.

Read Full Story Here:  When childhood innocence and gang violence lived side by side in Boyle Heights – Source: LA Times