In Los Angeles, where gang membership numbers 41,000 with 400 different gangs, "The big question has always been 'how do we get folks out?" said Cuban-born Guillermo Cespedes, at left, "gang czar" of the city's three-year-old Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development.
Now, social psychologists from the Univ. of Southern California say they have developed a survey questionnaire, to be given to selected gang members, that will measure how likely that person is to leave the gang, reports Christina Hoag of the Sacramento Bee:
"The group exerts a powerful influence on the individual. ...we want to try to reduce that group influence," said Karen Hennigan, assistant psychology professor at USC who developed the [survey]. "So the question is 'how well can you hold your own against the group?' We call it the 'I position'."
The ...survey, which costs about $65K to develop will be rolled out this month, beginning with 80 gang members who are known to anti-gang counselors through street outreach programs. If [test results show] their loyalty wavers, the counselors will step up efforts to encourage them to quit. That can include enrolling in drug rehab and job training, as well as working with gang members' families to mend fractured relationships.
The [survey format]...follows the moderately successful [Los Angeles Gang Reduction and Youth Developoment Program]. Approximately 3,000 pre-teen and early teens were found at risk of gang membership, according to report released last summer by the Urban Institute.
To continue its aggressive efforts to reduce gang involvement and violence, the City of Los Angeles has issued two requests for proposals, totalling $1.4 million, to work with youths 10-25 years old in eleven designated gang neighborhoods. Both RFPs have deadines of January 24, 2012.
Gang Prevention: ...RFP seeks one or more organizations to coordinate and implement Gang Prevention Services in one of eleven GRYD zones across the City of Los Angeles, listed below. The target population for this initiative will be youth at highest risk of gang joining, 10-15 years old, present in the selected GRYD zone. Over a twelve (12) month period, up to $900,000 will be available per contract for distribution through this RFP, subject to the availability of funding. Proposals are due Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 5:00pm PST.
Gang Intervention: ...RFP seeks one or more organizations to coordinate and implement Gang Intervention Services: Community Based Intervention and Individual Service Provision in one of eleven GRYD zones listed below. The target population for this initiative will be gang affiliated youth and young adults, 14-25 years old, present in the selected GRYD zone. Over a twelve (12) month period, up to $500,000 per contract will be available for distribution through this RFP, subject to the availability of funding. Proposals are due Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 5:00pm PST.
Written for California's Children by Elizabeth J Carlyle.