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Gang Prevention Symposium Held at LCC

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EUGENE, Ore. — Local organizations said despite popular belief, gangs are an issue in Lane County. A symposium was held Saturday on that very issue. Organizers said this is just the beginning of their efforts to combat, what they say, is a growing problem in Lane County. Their hope is to establish a shared understanding of an issue that is largely misunderstood.

More than 250 members from the county gathered at Lane Community College’s Center for Meeting and Learning Saturday morning. While they all came from different backgrounds, they had one common goal.

“Today is an opportunity for us to take the next step, to begin the planning on how we can address the issues around gang impact,” said the Juvenile Justice Center’s Assistant Manager, John Aarons.

Several speakers got up to highlight what they say are the many misconceptions surrounding gang culture. Statistics compiled over the last few months from specialists at the Eugene Police Department aimed to open many eyes to the reality of the problem. Those numbers revealed that more than half of the county’s gang members are made up of youth, ages 14 to 24. Reports also showed that 78% of the kids that entered the juvenile system ended up in the adult system.

“Gangs have a way of reinforcing a cycle or lifestyle of crime that is very difficult to get out of and it’s very expensive to get them out of that cycle,” said Chief Pete Kerns of the Eugene Police Department.

Ultimately, the goal of the event is to garner the community support needed to find a solution.

“The origins of gang membership are complex. They’re developed over many years and they have to do with families, schools and community. That’s where the problem starts and that’s where the solution lies,” said University of Oregon Professor of Family and Human Services, Kevin Alltucker.

And experts said addressing the root of the problem, the community, is where they might need to start.

“Our hope is to find some champions. And champions are going to come from community members, from professionals that have an interest in impacting the kinds of things that will help increase the health and safety of our community,” said Aarons.

Another symposium is scheduled for April.

2 comments

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  1. Postone says:

    It’s too late for most of these gang members. The powers that be and people in general should have been watching how these people were growing when with the very people that should have been loving them, and nurturing them were actually abusing them, emotionally, mentally and physically, when they were very young!

    These are the people, the parents, and their guardians who started all of this!

    Because children who are loved and nurtured when very young don’t usually join a gang! They are joining gangs and doing drugs because they are still looking for the love and acceptance they never got from their parents or their guardians! Of course not everyone who had a bad childhood grows up to be a hoodlum, however most of them will become alcoholics and drug addicts, they will be promiscuous, and many will commit suicide!

    So don’t think you are going to fix a broken child at the age of 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, by having a
    symposium or what ever you call it, it ain’t going to happen! Unless someone is willing and able to step up and really love and donate some real time to these young people there is little that can be done!

    God protect us from ourselves!

  2. Just Bob says:

    Could the problem start with our inability to keep the instructors of gang violence in jail? It seems to me that we are causing our own problems. The powers of this fiasco are the very people trying to work backwards by blaming the tax deficit on the tax payers when everybody knows it is due to overspending on the porkbarrel issues.

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