What is it that causes youth to join and stay in gangs?
And what is it that they are willing to kill, be killed, or go to prison for?
"For less than $5,000 a year, young men stop working for the gangs and commit to changing their lives. It would cost $90,000 to incarcerate each of them for a year."
The question becomes, what deters our children from engaging in criminal activity? That answer continues to be researched and acted upon by citizens in various cities.
I suggest that our REACTION to these children delinquents, of our nation, needs to be reevaluated, to accommodate a platform for rehabilitation rather than punitive measures.
But, who is the Agent of the Child? What "fundamental" rights are specific to them?
Who represents the best interest of the Child?
"the key is to stick to organic youth ownership and operation"
"The KEY is to provide that same sense of belonging, love, respect, and purpose that kept these young men in a gang — in other words, not just a paycheck, but access to a second family. And the commitment must be long-term; if we only have the young people for a couple of months or even a couple of years, they may stabilize during that time, but the gang will be waiting afterward."
Are the remedies we, as The Youth of Our Nation, seek possible?
What Stage is the best stage for recognition and accountability? How are these legal remedies intertwined?
Balance is no easy task when it comes to justice and children.
The question becomes, what can we do to be the "ACTION that spells the DIFFERENCE?"
Who are Child Soldiers?
“Children who are forcibly recruited are usually from special risk groups, street children, the rural poor, refugees, and others displaced…. the normalization of violence… can lead them to search for a sense of control over their chaotic and unpredictable situations… they will then be more likely to seek out and join armed groups that provide protection.”
“Those who find themselves to be victims often construct their identity along such lines. Such ‘victim motivation’ can also become a motivation to commit acts of violence on their own, in a bid for preemptive protection or revenge.”
There are many similar underpinnings that draw children to join gangs.
Understanding the “why” will lead to a more efficient result in the "how" to best rehabilitate our youth.
Harshly punishing children is not always the answer.
If our own children are joining violent organizations within our borders for similar reasons children thousands of miles away join violent organized groups and armies, then we should be looking for a different solution then just institutionalization through criminal proceedings.
Child Soldiers can be linked to gang-violence and/or participation by adolescents by nature of conduct committed and recruitment by which involvement became to be.
Child Soldiers are viewed to many as belonging to a special class in which they are "victims" rather than, or in addition to "perpetrators"
Therefore, rehabilitation and reintegration, or rather integration into communities is the preferred method of remedying the violent conduct they may have committed; especially, when they are entering new communities or when reputations with home communities have been ruined, or when they have no family to return home to.
Children should not be seen solely as aggressors; children can also be victims and often times are.
Children need agency; special agents to support their best interest.
There is no catch all “program” or “solution”
It needs to be Case-by-case , Situation-by-situation , and Child-Specific.
Our justice system supports leniency when it comes to children who commit a crime compared to an adult, but not insofar as a child-victim who may have "increasingly complex economic, social and international challenges--[who] is increasingly dependent on the opportunities, [and] capabilities;
The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth...[and is dependent on the vitality of those youth experiencing the hardships] who are soon to bear its chief responsibilities."
The child who seeks refuge in a gang is no different than the child who becomes a child soldier
Whether it be by forced recruitment, indoctrination, implication, or "voluntary" in nature, there are comparison lines that can be drawn between children who join gangs and child soldiers, no matter where they are in the world.
"Psychological impacts and abuses play a role in the voluntarily participation of children."
Myriad factors contribute to the recruitment and participation in conflicts around the globe including poverty, displacement, lack of education and work availability, separation from family, or abusive conditions; often a combination of multiple factors or overlap.
"Rights are more like a stencil or template that do not fit to every circumstance."
The challenge is finding a way to implement the human rights laws on a case-by-case basis.