Al Ortega a School Resource Officer at Yuba City High School for the past four years, is trying to help the parents and the community get educated about gangs and gang violence. According to Al Ortega gang violence is rising at an alarming rate, making parents and the communities want to do more to prevent it from happening in their neighborhoods.
“Parents can help prevent their kids from joining gangs by getting involved in their children’s activities, setting curfews, knowing where your kids are, and raising their self esteem,” said Officer Ortega.
Luis Gonzalez, a Yuba College student, stated, “Personally, I feel that the reason people join gangs is because they want to get accepted. They associate with gangs because they have similar backgrounds.”
In combination with police forces in the Yuba-Sutter area, citizens are helping to crack down on gang violence. Programs such, as Kans for Kids, have been developed to prevent students from displaying any type of gang affiliation. YCHS students receive and collect cans as well as donations and use the proceeds to purchase new school supplies, replacing those of the students’ own that have been confiscated due to gang insignia.
An organization that helps with alerting parents and the community of gang affiliation is Teens Against Gangs also known as TAG. Some of the warning signs to be aware of are new friends, truancy, graffiti, drawings, secretive behavior, and withdrawal from the family, rebelling against authority, hand signs, and use of profanity and language.
The community can help by forming a neighborhood watch, keeping an eye out for suspicious behavior, leaving the porch lights on, and petitioning the city to put in street lights.
An ex-gang member from the Los Angeles area who call himself Former G, said “My strongest argument towards gangs is this; if you are willing to die for nothing, why are you not willing to die for everything?”
“Bottom line is, we need to help these kids, exclaimed Yuba City Resource Officer Al Ortega. “It’s a turnaround, we’ll help them in any way, shape or form.”