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July 16, 2009

Gangs and kids

I spent the morning with a group of federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms  and Explosives who were mentoring children about resisting gangs. They've spent a week at New Psalmist Baptist Church on Old Frederick Road as part of a program called Gang Resistance Education and Training, which first started in the early 1990s.

The idea to teach kids in the 6th through 8th grades how to resist peer pressure and how to avoid fights that could lead to violence. They take the kids through various lessons and act out scenarios. At left, ATF Agent Jeffrey Matthews works out a scenario with Naomi, age 11.

One child asked what would happen if he convinced a friend to stay out of a gang, but the gang returned to kill him. Another said an older youth asked him to join the Bloods because he wore a red shirt to school one day, and his friend said 'yes' when a rival Crips asked him to join because was wearing blue.

These agents have their work cut out for them.

The Rev. Julian Rivera then led the kids in a session about jealously and had them read the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. I asked the reverend if it's sad that kids so young need these lessons. He answered, "Some of these kids have worse stories than Cain and Abel."

ATF agents said they've been asked to bring the program to children even younger, some in the 2nd grade. That's pretty said.

I'll have more about this in Friday's paper.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 10:50 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Gangs


Mr. Hermann:

You say it's sad that young kids need lessons from the Bible. Here is what's really sad; the fact that you seem not to get that the story of cain and able and the parables in the old and new testaments, are not something that is age inappropriate for second graders, that we should be wondering why we need to tell them.

they are the bedrock of our christian-judeo ethic that should be taught in every home and school to children beginning as soon as they are old enough to listen to a story and reinforced at every step of the way.

The fact that people don't get this is why we are where we are today; Faced with the daunting task of rescuing children from themselves, who've gone amok from a lack of moral guidance from their elders and society at large.

bible stories are not remedial tools you pull out when society has gone badly wrong, and then wonder if they're rated PG-13.

they are the rock and foundation of what we as a culture believe are the fundamental underpinnings of our laws and cultural morality.

Many people no longer have any clue who we are as a nation becasue of this vaccuum of morality and the intelligentsia has done everything it can to undermine and scoff at our core systems of belief.

It's no wonder teen culture is going to hell in a handbasket. Morality begins at home and there's a light on, the flcikering blue light of the TV, but nobody's home. Why should they pay heed when our journalists are questioning the value and appropriateness of the life lessons in the Holy Bible?

It's a shame our kids are setting themselves up for failure. Seems like they all are trying to fit in with these negative entities.

@ sal filli
I don't think the author was saying it is sad that young kids need lessons from the bible. I think he meant that it is sad that children as young as 2nd grader need anti-gang education.

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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