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Competing with gangs

Can social workers succeed?
  [vote for,

Young gang-recruits, considered by social workers to be “at risk” are difficult to get at for counselling etc.

They know their place in the gang hierarchy; they feel safe from the police behind high walls and are well fed by the gang’s illegal earnings; then to complete their basic needs, there’s the “entertainment” of sex, drugs and fighting.

Usually the only time social workers get close to them is after a police raid when they try to help them in every way possible, which wasn’t much I found, when I was briefly a social worker, despised as an ally of the police.

But during that time, I had a dream, a halfbaked dream, about a way of bringing social workers and at-risk young people together with a minimum of strife.

The idea was/is for the authorities concerned to provide in empty warehouses in gang-areas, free access to popular “amusement parlour” machines.

As well as an assembly of machines, all the social agencies would have attractive booths located among the machines.

They would have supplies of token “coins” to exchange for various kinds of commitment to their various services, ranging from watching a short video, to answering a brief research quiz, or even handing in weapons.

The authorities say to welfare agencies in effect: “There you are. You wanted to get in touch with at-risk young people. Now you’ve got hundreds of them milling around. What you do next is over to you. May the best agency win.”

Only trialling will show up the many possible bugs in the scheme, such as objections from commercial amusement parlour operators.

Could it be modelled in a computer? Has anyone heard of it being baked?

rayfo, Oct 01 2000

Clubs for teens Clubs_20for_20teens
kind of like this? [Voice, Jun 10 2011]


       the key unanswered question is, "would the lure of free videogames outwieght the sheer UnCool Factor of a sea of social workers?" I mean, face it, while kids might sneak in to play, none of them are gonna want their friends seeing them in there...   

       You'd need some seriously cunning reverse-psychology. I mean it. Anything government-sponsored automatically loses cool points, anything with social-workers, pastors, mentors, or anyone else who, in the mind of a disaffected, extremely socially-conscious youth, is associated with beige cardigans or public service announcements, loses cool points.   

       Your best bet would be to frame it as a scam. If they *think* they're getting one over on you, that in itself is incentive to go there...
Cheradenine, Oct 01 2000

       I don't think they're that dumb, Cheradenine, I had this idea more than ten years ago, when the homeless problem was extreme: in the Navy, we had a sort of "Community Center", with a concession, pool tables, pinball, etc. My idea was to construct community Centers with games, books and magazines, and so forth, but also with kitchens, showers, etc.   

       The idea could be adapted for kids with the addition of internet stations, tutoring in computer use, math, read'n and writ'n, etc. The big problem is staffing, as volunteer work at these places in onerous, and sometimes dangerous - however, if you give young people a chance, they will often take it - a lot of gang members simply have no other realistic options, or fail to percieve any other options they do have, but especially, as they grow out of adolescent impulsivity, begin to regret missed opportunities. Recruiting these disafected "Gang Bangers" as "middle management", would give them "management experience", and maybe inspire them to return to school, or at the least, make it easier for them to find jobs, making them "models" for the younger ones. It would be open to religious prosthelizers, who might also be a source of funding, staffing, etc, as well as social workers, and space could be provided for meetings, but attendence would be optional.
Scott_D, Oct 01 2000

       The other big problem, often biger than staffing, is location and facilities - expect resistence from people who don't want these centers located near their homes or businesses - recruiting the police to provide some discreet oversight might reduce friction - on the understanding that they would only intervene in the event of violence or other unlawful activity. If you don't try to provide this level of security, you might find yourself running a crackhouse instead...
Scott_D, Oct 01 2000

       Rayfro, thank you for trying to be part of the solution to societies ills. 'Gang' members: First, they must be taught tolerance. Their inability to tolerate society and accept its other races is oftentimes borne of themselves not being tolerated by other races. But by forming a 'gang' they then become intolerable to society which thereby intensifies the problem.
Social Workers: This requires elders of the same race to be involved in the whole process. The elders can then be a 'fence' if you will between the 'Gangs' and the 'Social/Government agencies.
The 'Center' must come after the 'atmosphere' is formed. If one 'gang' of one 'race' is there first, it will lead to self-inclusion/exclusion of others which brings these people back to being intolerable.
The 'atmosphere' can be formed by multimedia, less expensive than rent/construction etc.. Most U.S. 'gang' members live in a place they've never left if they are 2nd born U.S. citizens. After they become a bit tolerable, that is-see the world through ones eyes who has gone before, they can see the world, first via Internet, then through tolerable visits/truce with others. Then they can roadtrip. See the world through the eyes of another and you will see the world without blinders for the first time since childhood.
thumbwax, Oct 01 2000

       Thanks so far for your inspiring responses, a mix of hard-bitten experience and creative thinking, the kind of soil that grows a strong plant.
rayfo, Oct 02 2000

       This idea could work. IF it lost the "professional" social workers and the pastors. IF the fun & games aspect was based on a earn-the- privilege hierarchy of skill-building. IF that skill-building is made fun, doable and is explained for it's short, medium, & long term benefits (Don't be naive or authoritarian). To get them in the first place, if you don't push or pander, you would need to do what I believe is the answer to what Cheradenine suggests (seriously cunning reverse psychology) -- bait & switch. Let them think that it's a funhouse of top of the line computers with every imaginable hardware/software bell & whistle, endless expensive sports equipment, all kinds of other goodies, and run with few rules, even less enforcement by the above mentioned half-witted cluster of social service enablers that usually run this stuff. Then show them the value of your programs hard & fast before they know what hit them. Focus the well-trained "non-professional"staff on acting with courage, compassion, consistency. And voila, a winner.
thecat, Jun 14 2003

       This seems to be already backed, with community centers, recreation centers, YM/WCAs, etc. Hanging out in the game room is still not as galmorous as a life of gangs, drugs, money and women.
lawpoop, Aug 28 2003

       Or you could try setting up a gang of your own. Nothing to do with the authorities but which dose not seem to get raided much. Have a turf war, and win, and all the troubled teens that you could wish for will be at your door.
j paul, Jun 10 2011

       Anyone who isn't part of a gang is a fool. I'm part of the largest gang in this country: The Citizens. I pay my dues. They can call me up to put my life on the line at 18. We have enforcers. Rules. Most businesses pay protection to us. Anyone who breaks our rules gets an asswoupin. Lots of us are proud, we wear gang colours, get pride ink, gang identity before religion and family. Nobody insults our gang and whenever another gang crosses us it's war. USA, USA. Sure, i'm afraid of other gangs, but if they ever mess with me, I know that my gang will be out for their blood. We might not get the exact one that wronged us but we will get revenge.
WcW, Jun 10 2011

       //cool points//   

       Cool is part of the problem, not part of the solution. The valorisation of cool is neither universal nor inevitable nor irreversible.
pertinax, Jun 11 2011

       [marked for tagline] I had a dream, a halfbaked dream...
pashute, Apr 30 2018

       Ideas like this have always made me uneasy. As Jordan Peterson puts it, when it comes to intervention, "It's really, really hard to make things better, and it's really, really easy to make them worse."   

       Like WcW kind of suggests, the alleged "authorities" have never really been about preventing gang violence, but more about maintaining their monopoly on the use of violence - being the biggest gang in their territory.   

       To that end, the police and their allies always attempt to portray themselves as the good guys in order to win trust - and they always fail to some extent because there are good reasons not to trust them.   

       So I think this idea is both baked* AND undesirable.   

       * In essence, if not in particular.
spidermother, May 01 2018

       I grew up in a crime-ridden area. They had a program designed to keep young would-be criminals off the street, and it pretty much consisted of what you described, except the social workers were just there, not actively competing. They offered various activities and a daily snack. I don't know whether it had an effect on crime, but I never joined a gang myself.
Voice, May 01 2018

       // As Jordan Peterson puts it, when it comes to intervention, "It's really, really hard to make things better, and it's really, really easy to make them worse." //   

       Even he says something that makes sense once in a while. But that specific problem can be avoided with sufficient care.
notexactly, May 02 2018

       //Even he says something that makes sense once in a while. //   

       Much of it may be unoriginal, and some of it I don't agree with, but I find that everything he says makes sense. Still, it was lazy of me to quote him rather than just say what I meant.   

       //that particular problem can be avoided with sufficient care//   

       I'm not sure that it is a specific problem; it's more a meta problem due to the basic cussedness of things.
spidermother, May 07 2018

       Can't say as I agree with him all the time, but his rhetoric is articulate and sensical, reason enough to not be dismissed out of hand.   

       As far as the idea is concerned... isn't that pretty much baked, frosted and hand-delivered with basketball courts, drop-in centres and YMCA's ?
FlyingToaster, May 07 2018


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