St. Adalbert 8th grade
WHY DO PEOPLE JOIN GANGS?
A sense of “family”
Needfor food or money.
o Young men seek out gangs in areas of high poverty.
Desire for protection
o If you do not know and trust your neighbors it creates a divide in your community that leaves
kids vulnerable and unprotected.
Family history or lack of role models
To appear cool
FACTS ABOUT GANG VIOLENCE
A gang is a group of people who claim a territory and use it to make money through illegal activities.
86% of United States cities report gang activity
Gangs can be organized based upon race, ethnicity, territory, or money-making activities, andare
generally made up of members ages 8 to 22.
Gangs are one of the leading factors for growth of violent crimes both on and off school property.
Gang violence in neighborhoods expose children to drugs and violence at a young age.
WHAT CAN KIDS DO TO PREVENT GANG VIOLENCE?
Settle arguments with words, not fists or weapons.
Stay away from known gang members and gang hangouts.
Get involved in your community in a positive way
GANG VIOLENCE IN CLEVELAND
For 90 days over the summer of 2014, a third squad was added to the ClevelandPolice Gang Unit.
They are focusing on violence involving guns.
Gangs in Clevelandare neighborhood gangs, geographically based.
About 55 gangs are currently active in Cleveland, with about a half-dozen responsible for a majority of
the crime and violence.
The largest gangs are not always the most violent.
Gangs are active in neighborhoods across Cleveland, from east to west.
There is barely any gang violence in Downtown Cleveland. It happens when rival gang members run
into each other at bus transfers.
Clevelandhas a crime rate of 74 per one thousand residents, making it one of the highest crime rates
Clevelandis one of the top 100 most dangerous cities in the UnitedStates.
Poster campaign around the school
We would have displayed our research on hallway posters and shown the number of gangs and how
many people die from gang violence.
This would have raisedawareness about what a gang is and been a constant reminder to stay away
We ultimately decided NOT to do this because we think a lot of students would have ignored the
It meant a lot more to hear a personal story and meet someone who students can relate to about
neighborhood violence. We were able to feel a connection to Miguel that we could not have felt to
posters hanging in the hallways.
Neighborhood night at a community center
We wanted to bring people from the neighborhood together to talk about the problems caused by
Gang violence is not really a problem at St. Adalbert but it is a problem in the neighborhoods that
students live in. Because of this we wanted our community centers to work for change.
We did not have the time or the resources to work with these community centers. Being 8th graders,
we also did not have the skills to organize the neighborhood together.
It would have been almost impossible to get kids who are involvedin a gang or are thinking of getting
involved in a gang to come to the meeting.
In order to raise awareness about gang violence in Cleveland, our team brought in a motivational speaker on
April 17, 2015 who was a former gang member in a neighborhood not far from St. Adalbert Catholic School.
Before the speech, members of the audience were askedto use one word to describe a gang member or give an
example of a stereotype about to gangs.
The motivational speaker spoke to the middle school about his experience joining a gang, the types of
violence he saw present in his neighborhood that encouraged gang behavior, what ultimately made
him decide to leave the gang life, and what he has learnedfrom his experiences.
The speaker explainedthat neighborhood cliques or fights going on between different streets is a very
dangerous form of gang violence because it often does not get labeled as “gangs” so it is easier for kids
to get caught up in this.
The speaker also informedthe middle school students about ways to avoid getting caught up in a gang
in their own neighborhood and how to detect if they or their friends are being surrounded by negative
Quotes from Students reacting to speaker from a reflection the following day:
“I learned that once you get into a gang it is life threatening to get out. You are trapped.”
“The dreams you have for yourself determine your destiny. You should follow the right path.”
“Doing the wrong thing, like joining a crew, will lead you nowhere but in a grave or behind bars.”
“A gang takes away so much from your life and your family.”
“He gave us a message of never giving up.”
COMMUNITY VIOLENCE MIDDLE SCHOOL SURVEY RESULTS
100% of students reported that gangs were present in their community.
On a scale of 1 to 10, 70% of students reported that gang violence in their community was a 5 or
100% of students agree that it is important to stop violence in their community.
100% of students said that if they felt like there was a way for them to stop gang violence in their
community, they would do it. Most students do not feel like they have control over the violence
in their neighborhood.
However, 60% of students did not feel responsible for someone else in their neighborhood. Our group
thinks this could have a huge effect on stopping gangs and looking out for your neighbors.
6th 7th and 8th grade Community Violence Survey
Please complete the following questions.
1. Are there gangs in your community? Yes No
2. On a scale of 1 to 10, how big of a problem is gang violence in your community?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
*1= not a problem; 10= very big problem*
3. Do you think it is important to STOP violence in your community? Yes No
4. What can kids do to stop gang violence?
5. Why do you think there is gang violence in your community?
6. Is violence a bigger problem in your schoolor in yourneighborhood?
7. Why do you think kids join gangs?
8. If there was a way to stop violence in yourcommunity, would you do it?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
*1= I would not stop violence; 10= I would do everything I could to stop violence*
9. On a scale of 1 to 10, how responsible do you feel for someone else in yourneighborhood?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
*1= not responsible at all; 10= very responsible*
Pictures from the Speaker/Event on April 17, 2015
Miguel S., JCU student (’15), speaks to St. Adalbert middle school students (6th-8th grade) in the school
Pictures from the JCU Youth for Justice Summit, May 1, 2015
This group of students took first place at the Youth for Justice Summit based on their action plan and the
community impact they had made.