Danville works to deter youth from gangs

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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) Danville Police believe many of the gang members in the city are youth trying to get street credibility.

Now the city is trying to deter kids from gangs.

There are many organizations in Danville kids can get involved with, like the Parks and Recreation Department and Boys and Girls Club, but a big component is where they spend most of their time during the day - school.

"Having students involved in activities is really about preparing them for life," says Danville Public Schools Superintendent, Stanley Jones.

Jones says schools strive to engage students every day.

But not just in the educational aspect - the extracurricular aspect as well.

"Learning to be a part of a team, learning how to set goals, learning the relationship between success and practice," he says.

If extracurriculars aren't their style, the Parks and Recreation department has several after school programs.

"Statistics, any of them that you read, whether it's crime reduction, or safety or education, they always point in better directions if kids are involved with things when they're out of school," says Jason Bookheimer from the Parks and Recreation Department.

They are working to provide even more programs.

"We're actually going to be using mobile recreation units to go to the kids because we found that transportation is one of the hardest issues the kids face. We're trying to get more mobile and get out into the communities," says Bookheimer.

Jones says kids get involved with gangs because there's usually someone older providing resources and a sense of belonging.
He wants responsible adults to offer the same thing.

"If most students had a choice between being in a gang and having some of the same things that gangs offer that's much more positive, they would choose the positive route," he says.

According to the After School Alliance, on school days, 3-6 PM are the peak hours for teens to commit crimes, be in or cause car crashes, be victims of crime, and smoke, drink and use drugs.

The Parks and Recreation Department as well as the school system is hoping the formation of the new youth task force will help Danville's youth become successful members of society.



 
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