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August 2, 2013

THEIR VIEW: Gang violence is preventable

The recent sentencing of a 19-year-old Anderson youth to 50 years in prison for a savage beating marked a year of investigation and court hearings that may well have been prevented.

The beating was savage.

On June 27, 2012, three teens used a baseball bat to attack a 15-year-old boy. He was found bloody in the 600 block of East 27th Street. All three attackers have now been sentenced for attempted murder; two were from Chicago.

There is no doubt that the brutal attack comes from a gang violence mentality. Witnesses said the three attackers were linked to the Chicago Latin Kings, a vicious group that finds ways to infiltrate all-too-impressionable lives. In northern Indiana in May, a former Chicago police officer and two Latin Kings members were sentenced for racketeering; the officer committed robberies — some in uniform — on behalf of the street gang.

Gang life, often romanticized in movies, is a repulsive lifestyle that, first, families need to prevent in this community. For a parent not to know that a son is involved with a gang is tantamount to neglect.

Parents, as experts say, are the first line of defense in combating gangs. Youths tend to join the gangs for acceptance, perhaps because they don’t have positive interaction with their own relatives. Other youths join because of peer pressure, intimidation or promises of money. Parents can recognize the identifiers and keep their children in a family surrounding.

Secondly, the attack is a reminder that local law enforcement and prosecutors must stay vigilant in preventing the spread of gang involvement and violence. This community, among all its ongoing struggles, can’t stand for gang violence to permeate the streets.

Neighborhood watch groups, cooperation with police and community awareness are easy ways to begin to fight gang violence.

Of course, Anderson streets are not rampant with gangs. But if one attack can be so vicious and cruel, then we can all take steps to prevent the next one.

— The Herald Bulletin

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